COVID-19 Essential vs. Non-Essential Businesses


4-27-2020 - Emergency Order #34  will allow businesses like dog groomers, small engine repair shops, upholstery businesses, and others to safely open. Today's order also allows outdoor recreational rentals, such as boats, golf carts, kayaks, ATVs, and other similar recreational vehicles. Additionally, automatic or self-service car washes would be able to operate. All of these businesses must operate free of contact with customers by providing payment options online or over the phone, enact proper disinfecting practices, and operations must be able to be performed by one staff member. 

Read the Order Here


4-20-2020 - Gov. Tony Evers  directed Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to extend the Safer at Home order from April 24, 2020 to 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 26, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued. The order implements some new measures to ensure safety and support the progress we've made in containing COVID-19, but also allows certain activities to start up again.

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 #28.

  • 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 (curbside pick-up or delivery only)
  • Bars (carryout only)
  • Child care settings (with restrictions)
  • 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.