Governor Outlines 'Safer at Home' Order

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Michelle Phillips

MADISON–Gov. Tony Evers signed an order Tuesday shutting down all non-essential businesses in the state in an effort to curb COVID-19 cases. The order called “Safer at Home,” was announced on the governor’s Twitter account on Monday, and details were worked out to determine which businesses were essential before the official announcement was made on March 24. 

In a live YouTube feed for media, Evers said the latest action is an effort to slow the spread of the disease, of which case had risen to 481 by the time of the press conference. 

“I have said all along this is a fluid process,” said the governor who was joined by health officials during the conference. 

He said the decision did not come lightly, and his concern was for citizens and healthcare workers in the state. 

“That’s always been the bottom line for me, keeping people safe,” Evers said. “At the end of the day, folks, we are all in this together.”

Evers said that he would like residents to limit their interactions to a small group of the same people, preferably five or less, and to go out only when necessary. “Unfortunately, that means no playdates, potlucks or dinner parties,” he said.

He said that grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices and other services will remain available. Evers asked people not to panic buy and reiterated that necessary food and goods will be available. 

“There is no need to hoard food,” he reminded.

One of the reasons it took time to draft the order is because of the vast supply chain in Wisconsin. He said he enlisted the help of businesses to determine which are essential and non essential as well as community leaders and heads of municipalities.

In addition, the governor said he is trying to make sure health care workers have daycare they need to attend work. He added that plans are being set in motion to offer on site daycare as well. 

Evers told reporters that PPE (personal protective equipment) was in short supply in the state, and that the Wisconsin Dental Association has stepped up to offer the state all of the PPE it had on hand. Those items will be taken to a warehouse in Madison and distributed to health care facilities around the state. 

Evers said he was happy to see that national distribution of PPE had been turned over to FEMA, and added that state should not have to compete to products that are in short supply around the nation. 

The Safer at Home initiative went into effect at 8 a.m. on March 25, and will remain in place until April 24, the original date chosen for community action in the state.

Wisconsin residents are still able to: 

• Perform tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor;

• Get necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home;

• Care for a family member in another household; and 

• Care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

Citizens do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home. If a business is an essential business or operation, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work that is done in compliance with this order.

Some of the businesses considered essential are as follows:

• Health care operations, including home health workers;

• Critical infrastructure;

• Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable individuals;

• Fresh and non-perishable food retailers, including convenience stores, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and food banks;

• Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food and goods directly to residences;

• Pharmacies, health care supply stores and health care facilities;

• Childcare facilities, with some limitations; 

• Gas stations and auto repair facilities;

• Banks;

• Media;

• Laundry businesses, dry cleaners and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence, including garbage collection;

•  Hardware stores, plumbers, and electricians;

•  Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning;

•  Roles required for any business to maintain minimum basic operations, which includes security, and payroll; and  

•Law and safety, and essential government functions will continue under the recommended action.

For a complete list to essential business, visit the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation website at:

The public is reminded to continue to follow guidelines to help protect themselves from infection of COVID-19, including:

• Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages (including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in your home, non-essential workers in your house);

• Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water;

• Covering coughs and sneezes;

• Avoiding touching your face; and

•Staying home. 



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