Enforcing essential vs. non-essential businesses

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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - It's been about a week since Governor Evers issued the "Safer at Home" order and non-essential businesses were told to close their doors. While the majority complied with the order, Action 2 News has been inundated with calls from people questioning why businesses, they feel are non-essential, are still open.

From craft stores to CBD shops, local police say they've received dozens of calls from people asking why some of these businesses, they believe are non-essential, remain open during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Capt. Kevin Warych with Green Bay Police, "As of yesterday, there were 55 complaints that came into the police department that we looked at and we determined if they were essential or non-essential."

Police say they are following the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's guidelines, which are on its website, to determine if a business should still be open. But, they understand there is some gray area.

"We will take in the complaints, we will investigate them, vet them and then we'll just deploy our resources based on the interpretation of the governor's order regarding essential versus non-essential and then act accordingly," says Warych.

Acting accordingly is working with the business to see if they really are essential and need to stay open. Police tell Action 2 News they are not actively shutting places down, instead they are asking for compliance to the governor's order.

Capt. Todd Freeman with Appleton Police says, "Some of these businesses, their model combined a lot of things some of which can be seen as essential some of which not. I think their understanding that if you're at that, what percentage of your business is geared towards something that really is essential when you can honestly say that's not what we usually do, I think that most retailers understand the need to close right now.

Because of that, authorities say they haven't had to take further action against any business.

Older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with those conditions should take the proper precautions.

COVID-19 is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

"The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes the virus can make them sick," says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. CLICK HERE for more information on symptoms. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear between two and 14 days after contact with an infected person.

VISIT wbay.com/coronavirus for complete local, national and international coverage of the outbreak.

DHS recommends taking these steps to help stop the spread of the virus:

--Frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water.
--Covering coughs and sneezes.
--Avoiding touching your face.
--Staying home when sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending everyone in the United States avoid large events and mass gatherings for at least eight weeks.

The virus originated in Wuhan, China. The spread started in December 2019.