Summary of Emergency Order #12 – Safer at Home Order

In an attempt to slow the infection rate of COVID-19, on March 24, 2020, the State of Wisconsin issued Emergency Order #12 – Safer at Home Order (the “Order”).

The purpose of this Update is to help our clients and friends better understand issues created by the Order. It is a general summary, and is not intended to be comprehensive. If you have questions, or need assistance navigating the specific requirements of the Order, please call Jeff Femrite at 608 692-0310 or send Jeff an email at

Capitalized terms used, but not otherwise defined in this Update are defined in Section 7 below.

  1. Generally. The Order generally requires (a) individuals in Wisconsin to stay at home until Friday, April 24, 2020, and (b) non-essential businesses and operations in Wisconsin to cease operations until Friday, April 24, 2020. There are, of course, a number of exceptions and limitations.
  1. Individuals. Individuals may only leave their homes for (a) Essential Activities, (b) Essential Governmental Functions, (c) Essential Businesses and Operations, (d) Minimum Basic Operations, (e) Essential Travel and (f) Special Situations.
  1. Businesses and Operations.

(a) Except for Essential Businesses and Operations, all for-profit and non-profit businesses and operations are required to cease operations at their facilities in Wisconsin. These businesses and operations are encouraged to have employees work from home, if possible.

(b)  Essential Businesses and Operations are encouraged to remain open, but are required to comply with all Social Distancing Requirements.

(c) All businesses and operations (Essential Businesses and Operations and non-essential businesses and operations) are able to maintain Minimum Basic Operations at their facilities.

  1. All Gatherings Prohibited. Except for weddings, funerals and religious meetings (which may include 10 or fewer individuals, if Social Distancing Requirements are met), all public and private gatherings, of any number of people not from the same home, are prohibited.
  1. Required Closures. All of the following facilities shall be closed: (a) K-12 schools and public libraries (except as required to facilitate distance learning, and other on-line services, or for Essential Governmental Functions or food distribution), (b) places of indoor or outdoor amusement and activities, like playgrounds, swimming pools, bowling alleys, theaters, or fitness centers, and (c) salons, spas, tattoo parlors and tanning facilities.
  1. Travel Prohibited. Except for Essential Travel, all travel is prohibited.
  1. Specific Prohibitions on Certain Types of Food. All restaurants, bars, gas stations, grocery stores and/or other businesses or operations selling or distributing food (a) must comply with Social Distancing Requirements and (b) are specifically prohibited from (i) providing indoor or outdoor seating, (ii) operating salad bars, beverage stations, or buffets, and (iii) allowing customers to self-dispense any unpacked food or beverage.
  1. Definitions.

 “Essential Activities means (a) activities required to secure healthcare or medicine for family or pets, (b) activities required to secure necessary supplies and services, like food, gas, pet supplies and necessary household consumer products, (c) subject to Social Distancing Requirements, outdoor activity for exercise and recreation (including visits to public and state parks), (d) performing work for Essential Businesses or Operations or Essential Governmental Functions, including, for Minimum Basic Operations and (e) to care for family, friend or pets at another residence.

 “Essential Businesses and Operations means (subject to Social Distancing Requirements, which must be maintained at all times) (a) all businesses and operations identified by CISA, (b) stores selling groceries and medicine, (c) food and beverage production, transportation, warehousing and distribution, (d) Restaurants and Bars, for take-out and delivery only, (e) certain childcare, (f) organizations providing charitable or social services, (g) weddings, funerals and religious entities, for fewer than 10 people, (h) media, (i) gas stations and businesses needed for transportation, (j) financial institutions and financial services, (k) hardware and supply stores, (l) building and construction trades, (m) mail, delivery and shipping services, (n) laundry and dry cleaning services, (o) businesses selling supplies to work at home, (p) businesses supplying Essential Businesses and Operations and Essential Governmental Functions, (q) transportation services, (r) home-based care and services for elderly, minors and persons with disabilities, (s) professional services like legal, accounting, insurance and real estate services, (t) businesses that manufacture, distribute, warehouse, wholesale and retail for critical products and industries, (v) critical labor union functions, (w) hotels and motels, (x) higher education institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning performing critical research or performing other essential function, (y) other businesses designated by the Wisconsin Economic Development Authority (WEDC).

 “Essential Governmental Functions means services provided by state, tribal or local governments to ensure the continual operation of government, and to preserve and support the health, safety and welfare of citizens.

 “Essential Infrastructure includes, without limitation, food production, distribution and fulfillment centers, healthcare facilities, public works projects, Essential Business and Operations, construction for Essential Governmental Functions and utilities

 “Essential Travel means (subject to Social Distancing Requirements, which must be maintained at all times) travel (a) related to Essential Activities, Special Situations, Essential Governmental Activities, Essential Businesses and Operations or Minimum Basic Operations, (b) to care for elderly, minors or persons with disabilities, (c) to and from educational institutions for materials for distance learning and meals, (d) by non-residents and (e) required by law enforcement or court order.

 “Minimum Basic Operations means, for all businesses and operations (including both Essential Businesses and Operations, and non-essential businesses and operations, but subject to Social Distancing Requirements, which must be maintained at all times) the minimum necessary activity to (a) maintain the value of inventory, (b) preserve the physical plant, (c) ensure security, (d) process payroll and benefits and (d) to facilitate employees being able to work from home.

 “Social Distancing Requirements means maintaining 6 feet between individuals, regularly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes and regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces.

 “Special Services means (a) to visit or work at healthcare facilities or public health facilities, including facilities manufacturing, warehousing or distributing medical equipment and personal protective equipment (b) to visit or work at any state, institutional or community-based facility providing human services, like nursing homes, and (c) to provide services or work to operate or maintain Essential Infrastructure.