Evers loosens some restrictions, if precautions are taken
Wisconsin is getting the green light to shop.
Gov. Tony Evers announced another “turning of the dial” on the safer-at-home order Monday, allowing small boutiques and outdoor malls with one entranceway to reopen for business. The order takes effect immediately.
This order does not apply to traditional shopping malls, as some stores have entrances leading directly to the inside of the mall as well as entrances to the outside of the mall.
Missy Hughes, executive director of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., said the order applies to 14,400 small retailers with fewer than 20 employees across the state. All the businesses reopening would return 90,000 jobs to the state, Hughes said.
Stores that are allowed to reopen may have five customers at a time inside the store. If social distancing of 6 feet is not attainable with five customers, the number allowed even needs to be fewer, according to the order.
Employees are encouraged but not required to wear face clothes. The order stipulates customers waiting outside must be 6 feet apart and suggests customers be allowed to wait in their cars and receive a text message when it is their turn to enter the shop.
Drive-in theaters also are allowed to reopen under the order.
“In addition to added flexibilities and steps we have already taken for businesses, this is another disciplined turn of the dial that will allow Wisconsin’s business owners to safely get back to work and Wisconsin consumers to support their favorite local spots,” said Evers in a statement. “Both customers and workers need to be confident in their safety, so we need everyone to be diligent in following best safety practices so we can continue to move our state forward while keeping our neighbors, families, and communities safe and healthy.”
The order allowing more types of businesses to reopen comes the same day that the state’s public health emergency declaration expires.
On March 12, Evers declared a public health emergency due to the spread of COVID-19 in the state. It was set to expire in 60 days and needed legislative approval to be extended, said Ryan Nilsesteun, chief legal counsel to the governor.
Nilsestuen said some 30 other executive orders have been issued by Evers and state Department of Health Services Sec. Andrea Palm to cover management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of those orders expire in 30 or 60 days from the date they were issued, depending on the order, Nilsestuen said.
On March 12, there were five cases of COVID-19 in the state. On Monday, there were 10,418 positive cases and 408 deaths, according to DHS data.
With Monday’s order, the only types of businesses left to reopen include nail salons, barber shops and hair salons, bars and restaurants to full capacity, arts and entertainment, tourism and big retail stores.
“If we get to a point before the 26th that we are able to turn the dial, it will likely be in one of those areas,” said Evers when asked what type of business could potentially open next.
The safer-at-home expires May 26.
Nilsestuen said large retails like Menards and Home Depot that have been allowed to remain open, as they provide essential products, are supposed to be calculating the number of customers allowed in the store at a time based on the store’s square footage. It is not uncommon to see lines outside stores these days as customers wait for their turn to get into and to shop.
“I am really hoping that instead of standing outside in line that they would consider going to their small businesses on Main Street that are open now,” Evers said.