Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” order has been extended through May 26, and public and private K-12 schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday.
The order contains some new safety measures to support the progress the state has made in containing the new coronavirus while also allowing certain activities to start up again. Wisconsin also joined six other states in the Midwest that are to work in close coordination to reopen their respective economies.
The states working together on reopening are Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The governors of the seven states said in a joint statement that they will work with experts and take a fact-based, data-driven approach to reopen economies in a way that protects families from the spread of COVID-19.
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The governors said they will examine at least the following four factors when deciding on when to reopen their economies:
Sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations.
Enhanced ability to test and trace.
Sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence.
And best practices for social distancing in the workplace.
The governors stressed that every state will not take the same steps at the same time “but close coordination will ensure we get this right.”
“A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook for what COVID-19 could mean for our state, but because of the efforts of all of you, Safer at Home is working,” Evers said in a statement. “That said, we aren’t out of the woods just yet.
“As I’ve said all along, we are going to rely on the science and public health experts to guide us through this challenge. So, as we extend Safer at Home, I need all of you to continue doing the good work you’ve been doing so we can keep our families, our neighbors and our communities safe, and get through this storm together.”
Evers said that before the order can be lifted, testing and more robust public health measures need to be in place to reduce the risk of a second wave of the virus, which could lead to overwhelming hospitals and drastic physical distancing measures once again.
Along with schools being closed for the rest of the academic year, the extended order includes provisions allowing local health offiicals to close parks and open spaces if it becomes too difficult to maintain social distancing. The order says residents are strongly encouraged to stay close to home and not travel to their second homes or cabins or travel out of state if it isn’t necessary.
Tribal nations can set their own restrictions, but non-tribal members are being told to avoid nonessential travel to tribal nations.
The changes included in the extended order include:
Public libraries: Libraries may now provide curbside pickup of books and other library materials.
Golf courses: Golf courses may open again with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops will stay closed.
Nonessential businesses: These businesses will now be able to do more things as minimum basic operations, including deliveries, mailings and curbside pickup. The businesses have to notify workers if they are needed for the minimum basic operations.
Arts and crafts stores: Stores can offer expanded curbside pickup of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment.
Aesthetic or optional exterior work: Aesthetic or optional exterior lawn care or construction is now allowed under the extended order, so long as it can be done by one person.
This report is being updated.