On April 16, 2020, Governor Evers directed the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (“DHS”) Secretary to extend the Emergency Order #12 Safer at Home Order, previously issued on March 24th. Based on Governor Evers’ request, the DHS Secretary issued Emergency Order #28 Safer at Home Order, extending the prior Order and implementing some additional measures. In light of Emergency Order #28, individuals and employers should become familiar with the new restrictions and changes. A copy of Emergency Order #28 is found here.

By way of background, Emergency Order #12, among other things, restricted Wisconsinites from engaging in a wide variety of activities and restricted certain businesses from operating (or limited their operations) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions set forth in Emergency Order #12 were scheduled to expire as of 8:00 a.m. on April 24, 2020.

As a result of Emergency Order #28, the prior Safer at Home Order restrictions extended until May 26, 2020 subject to the changes in the new Order. Although the Emergency Order #28 notes that deaths in Wisconsin due to COVID-19 are significantly lower than originally projected, the Order concludes that the lower number of deaths is due to the prior Order and that an extension is necessary to slow the virus. Accordingly, the general stay at home restrictions of the prior Order remain in place except for: Essential Activities, Essential Government Functions, Essential Business and Operations, Minimum Basic Operations, Essential Travel, and additional Special Situations.

In addition, the following summarizes some of the key components of Emergency Order #28 and changes to the prior Order:

  1. Essential Businesses and Operations are now required to adopt policies to prevent workers from entering the premises if they display respiratory symptoms or have had contact with a person with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. In addition, protocols must be adopted to clean and disinfect the premises in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace.

  2. Essential Businesses and Operations must increase cleaning and disinfection practices, and restrict the number of workers present on premises to no more than necessary to perform the essential operation.

  3. Essential Businesses and Operations that are essential only because they supply, manufacture, or distribute products and services to other Essential Businesses and Operations can only continue operations that are necessary to such businesses.

  4. Stores that remain open must comply with new capacity requirements that limit the number of people in the store, and large stores (over 50,000 square feet) must offer two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for people over 60, pregnant women, and those with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

  5. Non-Essential Businesses will be able to engage in additional Minimum Basic Operations. For instance, providing or fulfilling nonessential delivery, mailings, or curb-side pick-up services (as long as such operations are performed by one person at a time and subject to other limitations). Non-Essential businesses must designate any workers who are necessary to conduct Minimum Operations and inform those workers of that designation.

  6. Aesthetic or optional exterior work, including residential construction or lawn care, may be performed by one person at a time.

  7. Public and private golf courses may reopen subject to certain limitations.

  8. All public and private gatherings of any number of people that are not part of a household are, generally, prohibited.

  9. Public and private K-12 schools shall remain closed for the remainder of this school year, except for Essential Government Functions; however, distance learning and virtual learning may continue.

Employers and businesses should review Emergency Order #28 carefully to ensure compliance with the new requirements. In particular, employers that have yet to implement infectious disease policies or other policies to prevent workers from entering the premises if they display symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, should promptly adopt such policies in compliance with the new requirement.

Please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Employment Team if you have any questions concerning the new requirements or Emergency Order #28. We stand by ready to assist.

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Written By:
Attorney Kurt A. Goehre

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