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Social Distancing Guidelines


April 9, 2020

There appears to be some confusion in regards to social distancing, outlined in the Safer at Home order, which became effective on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at 8:00 a.m. As recently as this past weekend, people were still holding gatherings at their homes and with Easter weekend coming up, which is typically time spent with extended family, this article serves as a reminder as to what the guidelines of social distancing entails.

So, what is social distancing? To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends keeping at least 6 feet (or 2 meters) from other people, not to gather in groups, to stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings, and to avoid direct physical contact with other people. You should not, for example, be having a cookout with your friends and neighbors, and your children should not be having in-person playdates with other children. Keep in touch with your family and friends by calling them on the phone, video chatting or by using social media. All public and private gatherings of any number of people that are not part of a single household or living unit are prohibited, except for the limited purposes expressly permitted in the Safer at Home Order. Nothing in the Safer at Home Order prohibits the gathering of members of a single household or living unit. Landlords or rental property managers shall avoid entering leased residential premises unless emergency maintenance is required.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and having to socially distance yourself from someone you love can be difficult, but it is absolutely necessary right now to limit the spread of COVID-19. If you are having difficulty dealing with stress, please contact your health care provider.

Limit trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, etc., for essentials and designate one person in the household to make those trips if possible. Many pharmacies offer mailing options for your prescriptions for a fee and you are encouraged to take advantage of that service. Grocery stores are offering delivery or curbside pick up for those that don’t feel comfortable shopping in person.

Stay at home as much as possible. Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates and nonessential appointments. Stay at home when you are sick, except to receive medical care.

Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth while in public.

The CDC, after recent studies, has said that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (asymptomatic) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity; such as speaking, coughing or sneezing, even if those individuals are not exhibiting symptoms. The CDC is now recommending wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost may be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. The recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. There is a video on how to make your own face covering at

According to the Safer at Home order, all individuals in the state of Wisconsin are ordered to stay at home or at their place of residence, with limited exceptions. Individuals who are using shared or outdoor space other than their home or residence, must, at all times and to the extent possible, maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from another person. Individuals do not need to maintain social distancing between family members in a single living unit or with other household members.

All individuals may leave their home or residence for a number of essential activities and functions including health and safety, such as picking up medications, visits with health care providers; obtaining groceries and food, buying gas or pet food, and other activities necessary to maintain the home or residence; outdoor activities, such as walking, biking, hiking or running while maintaining social distancing (does not include contact sports such as basketball); taking care of others, including friends and pets; and the travel associated with such tasks. The order is in effect until Friday, April 24, 2020, at 8:00 a.m., or until a superseding order is issued. Violation or obstruction of this Order is punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment, or up to a $250 fine, or both, Wis. Stat. § 252.25.

The full text of the Safer at Home Order is available to view at

More information about COVID-19 may be found on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website at or on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at


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