Wisconsin retail stores can reopen with restrictions

Published: May. 11, 2020 at 12:35 PM CDT
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More businesses are being allowed to open in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers announced Monday.

Standalone or strip-mall based retail stores can open for in-person shopping for up to five customers at a time. Shoppers and employees will have to follow social distancing guidelines by remaining at least six feet apart from others. Masking is encouraged.

The businesses had been closed to customers under the governor's Safer at Home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"In addition to added flexibilities and steps we have already taken for businesses, this is another disciplined turn of the dial that will allow Wisconsin's business owners to safely get back to work and Wisconsin consumers to support their favorite local spots," said Gov. Evers. "Both customers and workers need to be confident in their safety, so we need everyone to be diligent in following best safety practices so we can continue to move our state forward while keeping our neighbors, families, and communities safe and healthy."

The emergency order to "Turn the Dial" goes into effect immediately.

to view the order and the guidelines for stores.

Drive-in movie theaters can also open under the new "turn the dial" order.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), released the following statement regarding the latest emergency order:

It's another day and another confusing emergency order. We've flattened the curve by being careful and using common sense. With more testing, we're seeing a smaller percentage of positive cases. This shutdown has put half a million people out of work. It's time to get everyone back to work in every part of the state."

Assembly Democratic Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), also sounded off on the order on Monday, and issued the following statement:

“This is another important step forward. As we meet the public health standards necessary for certain retail businesses to reopen, everyone will need to remain focused on safety. It is important to open up businesses safely with clear standards they can understand and implement. While I am pleased Wisconsinites will be able to once again support their favorite local businesses, we have a long way to go and we will only be as successful as everyone’s willingness to look out for each other and continue practicing social distancing and wear masks.”

It's the latest sign that Wisconsin is closer to going back to work after two months under strict guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

One of the first places to re-open on College Avenue in Appleton was J. Hawkinson Clothiers.

Tha's where manager Lisa McGinnis says she unlocked the door just after hearing about the Governor giving the okay.

"We are just so grateful to finally be able to open the door. The owner is down in Florida right now and we're just so, so excited. We can't wait to see people again," added McGinnis.

It's the same situation, for Pat Murray who has a photography store a few doors down.

"It will be for us, probably, business back to normal because we never have more than five or six people in the store at any given time. That's a busy day for us," said Murray, of Murray Photo & Video, INC.

Murray says it was a decision that was almost overdue.

He added,"It's kind of lonely being here by myself all day but I'm trying to keep the store lively. I have machines to take care of, and chemistry, we just can't let that go away. We have to pay bills. We can't stay at home for a month. We want to get things done and be ready."

Both stores say the five person capacity will be enforced, and customers should expect other precautions too.

McGinnis said,"We're going to do everything in our power to make it safe for them to come in and feel comfortable and if they still don't feel comfortable obviously we're going to do other things to help them out but we're going to keep the social distancing, we've got masks, we've got masks for sale so yeah, we'll do what we can."

Last week, the state saw four-straight days of decline in percentage of new positive cases of COVID-19. The percentage numbers were up and down over the weekend.

The state has expanded testing in several cities and communities. That expanded testing is expected to help the percent of positive cases go down.

On Friday, the governor announced a series of "best practices and safety guidelines" aimed at various business sectors to help plan for their eventual reopening.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has a series of downloadable documents targeted toward specific industries. They include restaurants, retailers, barbers, fitness centers, agriculture and personal care fields.

for the guidelines.

These announcements come as the state continues to wait for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the May 26 extension of the governor's Safer at Home order.

Wisconsin's Republican-led state legislature challenged the extension, claiming it was unconstitutional and the Department of Health Services overstretched their authority. The lawsuit asks for a six-day period to allow the Evers administration and the Legislature to work together on a plan to safely reopen businesses.

The Supreme Court held oral arguments last week.

for coverage.

The justices are considering these questions:

1. Whether the Department of Health Services (the Department) violated Wis. Stat. § 227.24, governing emergency rules, by issuing Emergency Order No. 28 without complying with § 227.24’s procedures 2. Even if the Department did not violate § 227.24, whether Emergency Order No. 28 exceeds the Department’s authority by closing all “nonessential” businesses, ordering all Wisconsin persons to stay at home, and forbidding all “nonessential” travel

Gov. Evers tells Action 2 News he doesn't foresee a need for another extension of Safer at Home.

"I think by the 26th we will be in a place where we don't have to do that. unless something extraordinary happens. You know, the virus doesn't consult with me on that, but we are doing a great job with testing and tracing those results in a way that I feel confident we are headed in the right direction."

Wisconsin Assembly Republicans are advocating for a "regional approach" to reopening the state. That means opening up businesses in areas without a large number of COVID-19 cases.

"We truly believe that there is a middle ground here where we can protect the health and safety of our citizens while still moving forward and cracking open the door to allow businesses to start collecting revenue in areas where there is less of an impact of the virus," said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna).

The state has a Badger Bounce Back plan based on federal government's guidelines for reopening business. There are six "gates" to reaching that goal.

to track how Wisconsin is doing with Badger Bounce Back.

Gov. Evers' initial executive order declaring a health emergency in Wisconsin expired May 11.