COVID-19 Essential vs. Non-Essential Businesses


Protecting the health and safety of Wisconsinites across our state is the Governor’s top priority. As we work with public health experts to respond to the health crisis, we have been careful to listen to the science and mindful of the impact our protective measures will have for EVERYONE.

Today (Tuesday, March 24, 2020) Governor Evers issued Emergency Order #12 to institute a Safer At Home policy. 

The order is effective at 8:00 am on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 and will remain in effect until 8:00 am Friday, April 24, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued.

Read the Order Here  |  Safer at Home FAQs



Federal guidelines give state and local authorities leeway on how they define essential.

All entities described in this section shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible. 

Essential Businesses and Operations shall, to the greatest extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconference, and remote work (i.e., work from home). 

For the purposes of this Order, Essential Businesses and Operations means Healthcare and Public Health Operations, Human Services Operations, Essential Infrastructure, and Essential Governmental Functions, and the following:

Conditions, exclusions, and more information is available for each category. For more details, please see section 13 of Emergency Order #12.

  • CISA List - (Visit the CISA website for additional guidance and information.)
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
  • Food and beverage production, transport, and agriculture
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Child care settings
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services
  • Weddings, funerals, and religious entities
  • Funeral establishments
  • Media
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation
  • Financial institutions and services
  • Hardware and supplies stores
  • Critical trades
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services
  • Laundry services
  • Supplies to work from home
  • Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations and Essential Governmental Functions
  • Transportation
  • Home-based care and services
  • Professional services
  • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries
  • Critical labor union functions
  • Hotels and motels
  • Higher educational institutions
  •  WEDC designated businesses

Not sure if your business falls into these categories? Visit the WEDC website and submit an inquiry.

Need help identifying Critical Infrastructure? Visit to learn more.