Wisconsin’s State-Wide Stay-At-Home Lifted, Counties Make Individual Decisions

by Jack McCormick 0

May 21st, 2020 Coronavirus, News

On Wednesday, May 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ state-wide stay-at-home order in a 4-3 decision, calling the order “unlawful” and “unenforceable.”

The original challenge was made by Republican members of the state legislature against the democratically-controlled executive. The legislators argued that the process, not the substance, was the issue, and that they wanted a voice in the construction of the order; however, after the state Supreme Court struck down the original order, the legislature has yet to replace it with another state-wide order.

This means that the state’s regulations have become a patchwork of local orders, though now many of those local orders are being challenged in court as well. The plaintiff in those suits argues that the rules are inhibiting her right to worship (though in her city, religious services are being allowed again, albeit with limited numbers), as well as preventing her from circulating recall petitions “for either state or local office holders.”

Wisconsin’s reopening is proving to be much faster and more chaotic than other states which are following step-by-step plans similar to that issued by the White House in April. As resort town Lake Geneva reopens, out-of-state visitors–mostly from Illinois–joined Wisconsin residents for a facemask-free weekend of celebrating on the water and around town.

Bars, shops, and gyms in Wisconsin have also begun reopening, though not all counties are beholden to the same timeline, with some counties issuing their own stay-at-home orders. Because of this patchwork of rules and regulations across the state, some regions will be able to return to swimming while others are still in lockdown.

  • Milwaukee County – The state’s largest county by population, it is currently a mesh of different rules. While the city of Milwaukee itself remains under stay at home order, the suburbs are in the process of lifting regulations.
  • Dane County – According to a spokesperson for the Public Health of Madison and Dane County, following the expiration of the county’s “Safer at Home” order on May 26, barring an extension, pools may open if they meet certain conditions.
  • Brown County – Home to Green Bay, the county has entirely dropped restrictions, causing people to flock to bars and restaurants. The current county reccomendations fail to mention the opening of pools.
  • Winnebago County – While the county says it won’t be extending the “safer-at-home” order, it will continue to keep county buildings closed while encouraging social distancing.
  • Waushara County – One of the state’s smallest counties, Waushara has announced that they will allow the reopening of “businesses with pools and playgrounds” at 50% of capacity limits.

While certain parts of the state have begun the process of lightening their restrictions, others have remained strict, particular on their stance on the re-opening of pools. Both Kenosha and La Crosse, two of the bigger cities in the state, have said that they will not be opening public pools this summer, citing the cost of operating for a shortened amount of time.

Last month the Wisconsin LSC joined the growing list of LSC’s to cancel meets this summer. Unlike other LSCs, Wisconsin only cancelled championship meets, leaving the door open for some form of regular season to take place.


  • Alabama – 50% capacity (May 11)
  • Alaska – 50% capacity
  • Arizona – 50% capacity (May 15)
  • Arkansas – 50% capacity (May 22)
  • California – No counties have been cleared for reopening pools by the state, though several teams have resumed practice anyway.
  • Delaware – Community Pools at 20% capacity, no swim lessons or team practices (May 22)
  • Florida – some localities have allowed pools to begin to reopen under a patchwork of restrictions
  • Indiana – Adhering to Social Distancing Guidelines (May 24)
  • Georgia – 10 or fewer people, or 6 feet of space per person (May 14)
  • Kentucky – Pools designated for training or exercise can reopen (June 1)
  • Louisiana– Lap Swimming can resume at 25% capacity
  • Massachussetts – Outdoor pools Can Reopen in Phase 2 (as early as June 8), Indoor pools can reopen in Phase 3 (as early as late June)
  • Mississippi – six feet apart
  • North Carolina – 50% capacity (May 22)
  • Ohio – CDC Guidelines (May 26)
  • South Carolina – Smaller of 20%/5 people per 1000 square feet (May 18)
  • Texas – 25% capacity
  • Virginia – Outdoor lap Swimming only, 1-per-lane (May 15)
  • Wisconsin – Locality-by-locality (Read more here)
  • Wyoming – 1 person per lane

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