(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s governor is issuing a “Safer At Home” order that will close nonessential businesses and keep people at home. But he is not saying what that means.
Gov. Tony Evers on Monday said details about his order will come sometime on Tuesday.
“We want to give people some buffer-time to implement what is happening,” Evers told reporters Monday afternoon. “The dates, and times when this is effective, when it goes away will be determined [Tuesday].”
Evers first announced the order on Twitter. That only added to the confusion.
“My phone is blowing up with people asking if they work at or own an ‘essential’ business,” Rep. Jon Jagler, R-Watertown, wrote on Twitter. “I have to tell them I have no idea. Gov. Evers tweeted an announcement without details. We need this information now.”
Evers’ chief lawyer, Ryan Nilsestuen, answered most of the questions about the specifics of the governor’s order Monday.
“As in other states where what’s considered essential is a wide variety of industries and e-businesses,” Nilsestuen said. “We need to make sure we are maintaining our supply lines. We need to make sure we are maintaining food and other items in the grocery store shelves.”
Evers office said gas stations and grocery stores will stay open under his Safer At Home order.
But the state’s largest business group, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), said there is no guidance as to what else will stay open.
“WMC understands Gov. Evers’ intent to keep all Wisconsinites safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. However, it is imperative that the governor also take into account the health of the state’s economy. WMC has not received a copy of Gov. Evers’ ‘shelter in place’ order,” the group wrote on Twitter. “It is our hope that Gov. Evers exempts all manufacturers from this order, in addition to all businesses in the critical supply chains for health care, food access, transportation, construction, energy, financial services and other needed industries.”
The top Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature on Monday joined WMC in pushing the governor for some specifics.
“The governor’s announcement has created mass amounts of confusion,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement. “For days, Governor Evers took a measured approach and reassured business owners that a shelter-in-place order may not be necessary. Legislative leaders even complimented him for it. The governor’s sudden change of course and lack of specific guidance have increased the level of uncertainty and anxiety in our state.”
Vos and Fitzgerald asked, “What are the metrics that this decision is based on? What is considered an essential and nonessential business? How is that being determined? What changes need to happen for the order to be lifted?”
Evers has only reiterated some of those answers will come on Tuesday.
Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.