Local municipalities releasing own 'Safer-at-Home' orders, guidance following State Supreme Court decision

SOUTHEASTERN WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Several local municipalities are releasing their own 'Safer-at-Home' orders or guidance for residents after the State Supreme Court ruled to block the Evers administration’s extension of the Safer at Home order.

Here's a list of community orders/guidance:

Dodge County

The Dodge County Public Health Officer, Abby Sauer, will not be issuing local orders at this time. Instead, the community is being asked to voluntarily take measures to prevent, suppress, and control the spread of COVID-19. Dodge County Public Health says that current conditions may not warrant the issuance of an order. Dodge County Public Health will continue to monitor public health conditions, provide resources to the community and businesses and will take steps, as appropriate, should conditions worsen.

In order to maintain stability, Public Health ask that Dodge County residents voluntarily comply with the following Public Health Guidance: 

  • Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others
  • Refrain from attending crowded events and avoid mass gatherings
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. 

All Dodge County businesses are asked to voluntarily comply with the following guidance:

  • Plan for and support social distancing at your business
  • Identify the occupational risk of COVID-19 exposure and implement controls to reduce the risk
  • Increase cleaning and disinfection of surfaces
  • Increase monitoring of employee health and hygiene;

As Dodge County businesses look to reopen, Dodge County Public Health strongly recommends following the industry-specific reopening guidelines created by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation; guidelines can be found HERE and on the Dodge County website under COVID-19 information for Businesses.

The community is encouraged to visit the Dodge County website for latest guidance and resources: www.co.dodge.wi.gov.

Jefferson County 

Jefferson County Health Department places great importance on the health and safety of the public. We have already seen essential businesses take extraordinary steps to continue to provide service while keeping their employees and members of the public safe. This needs to continue.

In light of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, many businesses that have been closed will choose to open their doors soon, and many others will choose to expand their operations. Businesses need to do so responsibly. All Jefferson County businesses should continue to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing, cleaning, and disinfecting whenever possible. They should also consider the guidelines provided by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation at https://wedc.org/ and consult with their respective trade or business organizations to identify industry best practices to safely welcome back employees and customers.

Businesses may also want to check with their legal counsel to see how to open safely during a pandemic while also considering legal implications of cases that may be related to their business operations.

Jefferson County will continue to operate safely. For information about Jefferson County operations residents can get more information here

Kenosha County

In response to differing and updated legal guidance, Kenosha County is immediately withdrawing its local action that continued the provisions of the state’s Safer-at-Home Order, Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit announced Thursday night.

 This move allows businesses in Kenosha County to reopen without risk of penalty or prosecution, although Freiheit and other local officials strongly urge people to continue observing the public health guidelines outlined in Safer-at-Home.

Kenosha County and several other localities across the state issued local orders Wednesday night continuing Safer-at-Home until its May 26 sunset, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the state order late that afternoon.

Kenosha County Corporation Counsel Joseph Cardamone said guidance received from the Wisconsin Counties Association’s legal arm late Thursday suggested that the provision struck down by the State Supreme Court also applied to local health officers.

“The Supreme Court’s order caused a great deal of confusion and uncertainty last night that left us and others across the state struggling to determine how to abide by the ruling while continuing to protect the public’s safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cardamone said. “Tonight, with varying guidance from the Wisconsin Counties Association and more time to review best practices moving forward, together we’ve determined that we will withdraw our order and instead view Safer-at Home as a series of best practices, rather than requirements.”

Earlier Thursday, local government and business leaders convened to begin the review of the Kenosha County Kickstart plan — a strategic, phased-in approach to restart the local economy consistent with the gating criteria in the state’s Badger Bounce Back plan. That process will continue, with an eye toward providing businesses and organizations with best practices to allow them to operate in the best interests of public health and safety.

Milwaukee County

COVID-19 Public Health Plan for Suburban Milwaukee County

"I commend the public health officers representing the 19 Milwaukee County municipalities for operating with urgency to put orders in place that protect our communities," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. "I understand this is a time of confusion and uncertainty and it is easy to lose faith. This is why I rely on our public health officers and the data available to guide the way. I remain committed to working toward a safe re-opening based on the best information available. You can’t have a healthy economy without a healthy communityThe well being of all residents will always be my top priority."

City of Milwaukee

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Governor Evers’ Stay-at-Home order, the City of Milwaukee Health Department created a new order, that mirrors the order for Milwaukee County. 

"Everybody's goal is to reopen the economy. But, we have seen what has happened in other parts of this country and we have seen what has happened in other parts of the world, where you have had a rush to reopen things," said Mayor Tom Barrett. "What you ended up with was more death and more suffering. And, that is exactly what we want to avoid."

Hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, day spas, electrolysis providers, waxing salons, eyebrow-care establishments, tattoo parlors, body art establishments, and tanning facilities may open with Physical Distancing and Protective Measure Requirements and precautions. 

Retail establishments, including indoor shopping malls, may remain open. Such establishments shall abide by Safe Business Practices.

Outdoor playground equipment may be opened and public beaches will be open for moving through while walking, running, or biking. Swimming as well as team and contact sports on public beaches remain prohibited. 

Bars and restaurants must only do carry-out or delivery. 

Whether indoors or outdoors, places of public amusement and activity shall remain closed, including but not limited to the following: stadiums, amusement parks, conference centers, carnivals, dance clubs, escape rooms, water parks, licensed public or private swimming pools,splash pads, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers,funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, movie and other theaters, concert and concert halls, social clubs,miniature golf, and gyms and fitness centers.

This order will remain in effect until certain criteria are met. 

Read the full order here

Racine County

"As we gather information about the state Supreme Court ruling, we are committed to helping lead efforts with our local and regional partners to ensure Racine County reopens in a thoughtful, efficient and safe manner. We are encouraged that businesses can begin to reopen but we must work collaboratively to protect public health and establish consumer confidence. We urge businesses and residents to continue practicing social distancing and taking precautions to protect themselves and others." -Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave

The Rebound Racine County Task Force led by Racine County and RAMAC released a report designed to serve as a sector-by-sector roadmap to reopen Racine County businesses. Read the report here.

City of Racine

"Today the Wisconsin Supreme Court and their Republican allies in the legislature have put politics before the health and lives of Wisconsin residents. This decision seems rooted more in partisan politics than findings of law. It certainly ignores science and what thousands of medical professionals have been saying about the necessary steps we all need to take to combat the spread of coronavirus, flatten the curve, and save the lives of our residents. This reckless decision will almost certainly mean that the pandemic lasts longer and the health consequences will be even more severe, particularly in places like Racine which is seeing a spike in cases and savage disparities among communities of color. I urge City residents to continue to take the necessary steps to protect yourself, your families, and the community." -Mayor Cory Mason

Walworth County 

In the wake of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Safer at Home Order, effective immediately, businesses can open and people can travel and gather in large groups. Walworth County’s Division of Public Health will not be issuing orders that replace Safer at Home at this time. Today, Walworth County released guidance on the county website for area businesses on how to implement protocols to protect their customers.

County Public Health Officer, Erica Bergstrom stated,“We have faith in our business leaders and believe they will follow these guidelines and implement strategies to protect their customers and staff.” The risks to the public from COVID-19 are ongoing and will extend beyond the next week or the next two weeks. As such, short-term public health orders are not likely to have a significant lasting impact. Any effective solution will be dependent upon individuals and businesses making personal decisions to proactively protect themselves, their guests, and their customers.

Read full report here

City of Whitewater

As most are aware, yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the Safer at Home Emergency Order #28. The Court determined that the order is subject to administrative rule-making, and because it was not established in rule, but rather it was established via order, the Supreme Court found EO #28 “unenforceable.”

This ruling takes effect immediately. As is the case with any municipal government, two fundamental objectives of the City of Whitewater are to first protect and preserve the health and safety of the community and second, to support local business growth and development.With these two objectives in mind, the City has issued the following release in response to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision.

For Residents and Visitors:

The City of Whitewater encourages community members to adhere to health and safety guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Jefferson County Health Department, and Walworth County Health & Human Services Department. Follow key practices as outlined below.

1. Practice social/physical distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet between yourself and others at all times, except
when gathering with those within your own household;
2. Avoid large gatherings, especially those where social distancing practices are not observed;
3. Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer;
4. Cover coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands);
5. Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces;
6. Avoid shaking hands;
7. Stay home when sick, including with even mild symptoms, and discuss your health with your primary medical care
8. If you are considered high risk due to age or a health condition, continue to remain safer at home and take
precautions such as limiting travel to essential reasons and working from home as much as possible.

Read more here.

Washington County

Rather than extend “Safer at Home” orders, Washington County Executive Josh Schoemann signed a proclamation implementing the “Blueprint to Reopen.” The proclamation "recognizes the community’s responsibility to follow physical distancing guidelines as well as the public’s ability to use common sense to follow the document’s FAQ to keep their neighbors safe."   

“Washington County will not issue blanket orders restricting individual rights,” said County Executive Josh Schoemann. “Now is the time for citizens to work as loving neighbors to continue keep the curve flat and protect the at risk population. I trust our residents and businesses to follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and health department.”

“Activities and businesses which encourage large gatherings, such as bars, restaurants, festivals and parades, remain the highest risk for vast and quick moving outbreaks, which become uncontrollable,” stated Kirsten Johnson, the public health officer. “The best way to keep the elderly and those with health conditions safe is for all businesses to follow the guidelines and voluntarily comply with public health guidance. The health department will continue robust contact tracing and effective public health campaigns. When outbreaks occur, we will publish them and issue legally binding direction to the organization(s) involved to quickly resolve the risk to the community. Voluntary compliance with the Blueprint mitigates the risk of large outbreaks.”

The health department will continue to report outbreak locations, including business or organization names, and case data on its dashboard. The Blueprint, FAQ and dashboard are all available at washozwi.gov.  

From the enforcement perspective, Sheriff Marty Schulteis reported, “From the start, our enforcement efforts have been [educated] on the guidelines Kirsten and the health department put out. We ask for continued compliance with these guidelines so that we can keep all of our citizens safe, healthy, and more importantly, open for business.” 

Waukesha County 

“In light of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, many businesses that have been closed will choose to open their doors tomorrow [May 14], and many others will choose to expand their operations. We trust our businesses will do so responsibly. All Waukesha County businesses should continue to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and cleaning and disinfecting whenever possible. They should also consider the guidelines provided by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and consult with their respective trade or business organizations to identify industry best practices to safely welcome back employees and customers... Waukesha County continues to have an active and aggressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The County’s Public Health Division, Emergency Operations Center, and other departments and divisions are working to keep residents as safe as possible while allowing our economy to recover from the effects of COVID-19." -Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow

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