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Tony Evers to order non-essential businesses to close statewide in response to COVID-19

Written by LOPPW | 03/23/2020

Gov. Tony Evers has ordered all non-essential businesses to close down Tuesday, in the latest effort to clamp down on nonessential travel and limit Wisconsinite’s exposure to COVID-19 coronavirus, which has already killed four people in the state.

Evers announced the “safer-at-home” order Monday, which he plans to sign Tuesday. The order represents a shift from the governor’s position last week, when he said he did not plan on issuing such an order, which would shut down even more businesses across the state.

When it passes, Wisconsin will join other states including California, Ohio and Illinois, which have passed similar orders — also referred to as “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” directives.

Evers noted the order is not a lockdown, but rather an attempt to limit unnecessary trips.

“You can still get out and walk the dogs — it’s good exercise and it’s good for everyone’s mental health — but please don’t take any other unnecessary trips, and limit your travel to essential needs like going to the doctor, grabbing groceries, or getting medication,” Evers tweeted.

Schools, nail salons, spas and sit-in services at bars and restaurants already have been closed down due to the respiratory disease, which has infected nearly 400 people across the state.

Evers said on Twitter the order, which strongly urges residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary, “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.

“Unfortunately that means no sleepovers, no play dates, and no dinner parties with friends and neighbors,” Evers tweeted.

Evers did not detail how such an order would be enforced, but said he plans to provide additional details later Monday.

The federal government provides state and local entities the ability to identify what is considered an essential business during a public health emergency. Health care facilities, grocery stores and law enforcement entities are some examples of what is commonly referred to as an essential service.

As of Sunday, Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 381 cases of COVID-19 across 30 counties, with 61 cases reported in Dane County. Four deaths have been reported in Fond du Lac, Ozaukee and Milwaukee counties.

Community spread — when someone contracts the disease without traveling out of the state or coming in contact with known cases — has already occurred in Dane, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Columbia and Brown counties, according to DHS.

The statewide shutdown has already resulted in skyrocketing joblessness across Wisconsin.

Preliminary numbers from the Department of Workforce Development show that more than 69,000 initial unemployment claims had been made between March 15 and Saturday. There were about 5,200 initial claims made in the same span las