Safer at Home Changes and Reopening Guidance

May 15, 2020

What a week! I don’t know about you guys, but this week for me felt like I was trapped on a roller coaster I couldn’t get off of. I’m going to try and make some sense out of the dizzying madness for you here. This blog will be one in a series that talks about the reopening concept. Today, I’m talking about the rules around re-opening; next week, I plan to touch on some issues that you may face as you reopen with employees. Check back often though as things around here tend to change faster than a tilt-a-whirl.

Despite WI Supreme Court Ending Safer at Home Order, Many Wisconsin Cities and Counties Remain Under Similar Orders.

As you likely read or heard, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its decision on Wednesday May 13, 2020, effectively ending the Safer at Home (extension) Order, which was set to expire on May 26th. You want a detailed legal analysis of how and why? Nah, I didn’t think so. Bottom line, Wisconsin Supreme Court effectively stated, go forth and re-open. As some people literally poured into bars, city, village and county officials couldn’t pump the brakes fast enough.

The city of Milwaukee quickly issued a statement reminding us that their Safer at Home Order was still in place. Milwaukee County’s team of 19 municipalities published their own version. These orders – in part – maintain some of the prior state Safer at Home mandates, while in other parts, they expand what can re-open and, in some cases, have changed the deadlines for these revised rules. For example, in Milwaukee County an order is in place through Thursday May 21st; whereas the city of Milwaukee’s order is in place “indefinitely.” The county order allowed businesses like hair and nail salons to open under a strict set of rules regarding capacity and entrance; whereas, initially, the city order did not allow such openings. (The city has since published a new Order and now does allow these types of businesses to reopen, albeit with limitations.)

However, not all Wisconsin counties or municipalities have followed suit. For example, Waukesha county has indicated that they don’t intend to issue any local rules. Meanwhile, some local municipalities were waiting for more direction at the state/legislative level, which today legislators have indicated they prefer come from the local level. Literally as I type this, I’m receiving news updates some municipalities are now dropping or ending their local orders!! (Is your head spinning yet? Mine sure is!) Bottom line, where you live, work and/or run your business could be under different rules and/or timeframes, so review local rules carefully, check and recheck for changes, and reach out if you need help making sense of it all.

WEDC Publishes Business Reopening Guidelines

Prior to the whirlwind of “are we, or are we not open?” from yesterday, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) published General Business Guidelines for reopening, along with several industry specific publications. These are guidelines, or suggestions – they are not mandates. Notably absent in them are timelines. However, businesses that are seeking guidance on how to reopen safely – as that term is defined by the WEDC (with input by numerous government departments and agencies, including DHS and the CDC) may wish to review them now, as some suggestions may take some time to prepare and/or put in place.

The CDC has a number of guidelines and resources that can be consulted as best practices for reopening. Patience and understanding are going to be key as everyone works through this. No matter what decision you make for your business, make sure that in addition to complying with the applicable laws, you feel comfortable and that you communicate with your staff and customers what is expected and how it is subject to change.

The Law Offices of Lindsey King, LLC are offering COVID-19 support services. If you have specific reopening questions, or are looking for clarification on rules or communications, feel free to reach out and see if we can help.

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1. The information above does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult your attorney with specific questions.
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