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Focus Area: Coronavirus/COVID-19

Safer at Home Emergency Order: Financial Institutions Considered Essential Businesses and Operations

On March 24, 2020, Governor Evers ordered the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to require all non-essential businesses and operations to close their facilities except for minimum basic operation as defined by the order. Under the order, financial institutions are permitted to remain open as they are listed as one of several essential businesses and operations. The order defines financial institutions as banks, credit unions, and other depository or lending institutions; licensed financial service providers; insurance services; and personnel necessary to perform essential functions at broker dealers and investment advisor offices.

The order encourages all essential businesses and operations to remain open but explains that they must, to the greatest extent feasible, comply with social distancing requirements, which include (1) maintaining a social distance of six feet between people; (2) washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer; (3) covering coughs or sneezes into ones sleeve or elbow; (4) regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces; (5) not shaking hands; and (6) following all other public health recommendations issued by DHS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The order also requires essential businesses and operations, to the extent possible, to utilize technology to avoid in-person meeting, including virtual meetings, teleconference, and remote work. Further, essential businesses and operations are required to comply with DHS guidelines for businesses and employers.

A violation of this order could result in 30 days imprisonment or a fine of up to $250, or both. 

The order will take effect at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 and shall stay in effect until 8:00 a.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020, unless a subsequent order is issued stating otherwise. 

As employers, financial institutions should note that employment laws are separate from the emergency order issued by Governor Evers and DHS. For more information on key employment considerations resulting from COVID-19, please read our recent article entitled Coronavirus: Where are We Now?”.

Financial institutions should ensure they are in compliance with the requirements of the order. The order will have significant, and in many cases adverse, impacts on many of your customers, and we will forward information on how the order impacts different business segments as it becomes available. 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general informational purposes only. This post is not updated to account for changes in the law and should not be considered tax or legal advice. This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with legal and/or financial advisors for legal and tax advice tailored to your specific circumstances.


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