The Department of Health Services has submitted the scope statement for the emergency rule for the social distancing protocols. The statement says the objective of the proposed rule is intended to balance two objectives: 

  1. “Boxing in” COVID-19 to limit its spread to healthy Wisconsinites; and 
  2. Reopening and support of the Wisconsin economy without creating undue risk of spreading the virus and thereby causing additional long-term economic disruptions. 

With regard to the first objective, the goal is to suppress and contain the spread of COVID-19, to save lives and prevent the State of Wisconsin’s health care system from being overwhelmed; to allow time for the continued production and deployment of expansive testing, contact tracing, and development of stores of scarce resources (such as ventilators, and PPE); and to create safe environments and reasonable measured increments of relaxing social distancing requirements, while maintaining measures that have been proven to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19. The proposed rule is likely to include a variety of temporary measures in ch. DHS 145 designed to achieve that goal consistent with the decision in Wisconsin Legislature v. Palm, including, but not limited to: limitations on the number of persons in a given confined space; requirements for social distancing; limitations on mass gatherings; and basic safeguards for businesses to protect employees and visitors.

With regard to the second objective of turning the dial toward reopening the economy, the proposed rule may establish a phased approach to reopening Wisconsin’s economy and society, with each phase being incrementally less restrictive on businesses and individuals while protecting the public from COVID-19.