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Read the whole Safer at Home order: A list of all exceptions for work, travel, getting outside
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Read the whole Safer at Home order: A list of all exceptions for work, travel, getting outside

Stay at Home order exceptions teaser

Wisconsin's Safer at Home order, which will go into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, includes the following exceptions for when it is still allowed for residents to leave their homes. (Click the underlined text to read the order.) 

The order is enforceable "by any local law enforcement official, including county sheriffs," according to the order issued by the Department of Health Services and Gov. Tony Evers. The maximum punishments are a $250 fine, up to 30 days of imprisonment, or both.

General exceptions

Wisconsinites are ordered to stay at home or at a place of residence, with the following exceptions:

Pets on Parade

Rosa Flegel walks her dog Billie Holiday, a Bichon Frise/Shih Tzu mix at the front of the Wind Point Pet Parade.

  • Those whose homes are unsafe (or become unsafe) as the result of domestic violence are both “permitted and urged to leave their home.”
  • It is allowed to go outside to walk pets or to get exercise, while still maintaining six feet of distance between yourself and others. However, “Individuals may not engage in team or contact sports such as by way of example and without limitation, basketball, ultimate frisbee, soccer, or football, as these activities do not comply with Social Distancing Requirements.
  • To take care of others, such as family members or friends in other households.
  • To pick up medical supplies/medication
  • To seek emergency services/seeing a doctor or behavior health care professional; although the order advised that “Individuals should rely on telehealth options whenever feasible.”
  • To acquire necessary supplies and services, which include food/groceries, gasoline, propane, pet supply, sanitary/sanitation products
  • To go to work, but only if that work is considered “Essential Business or Operations”

Work and business exceptions

Below are listed the private business operations that are considered to be “essential”:

Bagging groceries

Phil Woodman bags groceries in Woodman's Market at 3817 Milwaukee St. The East Side store, opened in 1979, was the company's first in Madison. Woodman's now counts West Side and Sun Prairie locations among its 17 stores. 

  • Stores that sell groceries and/or medicine, including food banks, food pantries, convenience stores and produce stands, as well as sellers of alcoholic beverages. However, these locations must close “all seating intended for consuming food” and close any self-service operations, such as buffets and salad bars and beverage stations.
  • Restaurants are still permitted to offer takeout and delivery service; customers may only enter establishments to pick up their orders and pay for it
  • Bars are still permitted to allow takeout, but cannot offer delivery
  • Wineries may still deliver wine if they have “wine shippers’ permits”
  • Child care facilities may remain open, but the children of health care staff should be prioritized, followed by the children of other essential workers
  • Transportation of food and beverage
  • Production of food and beverage
  • Agriculture
  • Charitable and social services organizations can remain open
  • Funerals, weddings and other religious entities may remain active, but must limit gatherings to no more than 10 people
  • Media — including newspapers, television and radio outlets — may remain active
  • Gas stations and other businesses needed for transportation can remain open
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Hardware and supplies stores
  • “Critical trades … including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, carpenters, laborers, sheet metal, iron workers, masonry, pipe trades, fabricators, finishers, exterminators, pesticide application, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, forestry and arborists
  • Post offices and other shipping/delivery/logistics services
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners, etc.
  • Businesses that provide products that allow others to work from home
  • Health care and public health
  • Human services
  • “Essential infrastructure”
  • Any business or worker included on the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)” list related to “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers”
  • Suppliers for essential government functions
  • Transportation, including airlines, taxies, transportation network providers (i.e. Uber and Lyft), vehicle rental services, etc.
  • Home-based care and services, such as those for seniors or those with disabilities
  • “Professional services,” including attorneys, insurers, real estate and accountants; although they are still advised to use virtual meetings and work remotely
  • Hotels and motels may remain open, but must close swimming pools and exercise facilities, and must prohibit guests from “congregating in lobbies or other common areas”
  • Educational staff may continue to work “for purposes of facilitating distancing learning” and, at higher educational institutions, may continue “performing critical research”

For advice as to whether an operation should be considered an “essential function,” consult the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation at wedc.org/essentialbusiness

Travel exceptions

Travel that is considered “essential” includes:

Hand wheel car driving stock tire road file drive
  • Any travel related to other “essential” operations, as included in the governors order
  • Travel to care for others, such as the elderly, children and “other vulnerable persons.”
  • Travel to and from educational institutions, but only for the purposes of retrieving materials related to distance learning, receiving meals, “or any other related services.”
  • Traveling to return to a place of residence
  • Travel as required by law enforcement or a court order, such as transporting children so as to abide by a custody agreement

Governmental work exceptions

Below are listed the governmental operations that are considered to be “essential”:

Melby's tats

Sgt. Chad Melby poses in front of the Racine Police Department. He's wearing a short-sleeve uniform, which he has only been allowed to do since October, when the RPD started allowing officers to have visible tattoos.

  • Police/Law enforcement
  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical services
  • First responder training academies
  • Building inspectors
  • Emergency management personnel
  • Emergency dispatchers
  • Court personnel, jurors and grand jurors
  • Corrections personnel
  • Hazardous materials responders
  • Child Protection and child welfare personnel
  • Housing and shelter personnel
  • National Guard and military
  • Others who work for or support the above operations

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Related to this story

Law enforcement will not be randomly stopping vehicles to ask where they are going, according to the Racine County Sheriff's Office. Law enforcement is more likely to intervene if there are crowds, flagrant violations or employees being asked to report to work in-person where the business is not supposed to be open or appropriate social distancing precautions are not taking place. 

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