Gov. Tony Evers (Photo by A. David Dahmer)

Gov. Tony Evers has directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue a Safer at Home order today that prohibits all nonessential travel, with some exceptions as clarified and defined in the order. Palm signed the order today, and it goes into effect at 8 am tomorrow and remain in effect for 30 days, until Friday, April 24.

The order prohibits any non-essential travel and orders all non-essential businesses closed. However, the list of essential businesses includes grocery stores and pharmacies, restaurants (which can only be open for takeout and delivery), construction companies, shipping companies, media outlets and more. The full list is contained in the 16-page order.

Churches and other faith-based organizations can remain open but cannot host more than 10 people at a time.

The order says even essential businesses should do what they can to keep people distant from each other, and anyone who does venture outside is ordered to stay six feet from other people and not congregate in groups of more than 10.

“I know the COVID-19 outbreak has been difficult and has disrupted the lives of people across our state. Issuing a Safer at Home order isn’t something I thought we’d have to do and it’s not something I take lightly, but here’s the bottom line: folks need to start taking this seriously,” Evers said in a statement. “Each and every one of us has to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can flatten the curve to ensure our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers have the opportunity to do their important work. Let’s all do our part and work together.”

Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home, the governor’s office said in a press release. Similarly, if a business is an essential business or operation as defined in this order, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work that is done in compliance with this order.

Violation of the order is punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment or $250 fine. Evers’ chief legal counsel Ryan Nilsestuen said Monday that local police and sheriff’s deputies would enforce the order but the Administration hoped people comply voluntarily.

The order is available here.