[Last] week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Evers’ stay at home order, holding that the Governor’s health secretary had illegally promulgated the order without the approval of the Legislature.
In the coming days and weeks, the Legislature and the Governor will be drafting a new statewide plan to address Covid-19. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said this week that he had no interest in a new order that would “micromanage” businesses. I completely agree with the Senator’s statement. Small businesses have been decimated, and some will never reopen. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and many have received no benefits because of issues at the Department of Workforce Development. Another complete shutdown of our economy would continue to ruin lives.
Wisconsin has flattened its curve, sparing hospitals and patients from an overflow of cases. It is not the state’s role to determine how much risk its citizens choose to take in their daily lives. County health departments have broad powers at their disposal to address localized outbreaks of coronavirus. Milwaukee and Dane counties’ restrictions will obviously be much different than those of rural counties. The state’s new plan should prioritize increased testing, regional guidelines, and an initial plan for how we will reopen our schools in the fall.
But a lack of government-imposed restrictions does not mean that businesses are without guidance. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has published safety guidelines for every industry in the state. These guidelines are available on WEDC’s website. I encourage every business owner to review these guidelines and to implement measures that they can incorporate into their daily operation.
It’s also important to remember that as businesses begin to reopen, there will be a spectrum of measures in place. Many businesses will implement some form of safety measures. Some businesses may not open at all. Please respect the choices business owners make as they begin to get their livelihoods back. Businesses that implement social distancing measures are doing so for the safety of their customers and employees, and their decisions to do so should be respected by their customers. If you are able to do so, please continue to support the small business owners in our area that have been affected by the shutdown.
Rep. Gae Magnafici represents portions of Polk, Burnett, and St. Croix counties.