What’s safe to open? - Paycheck

What’s safe to open?

  • Which businesses will reopen first and which will remain closed?
  • What’s in the Badger Bounce Back Plan?
  • See Wisconsin’s progress for reopening with this real-time tracker

Now that states and countries are beginning to reopen from the COVID shutdown, many Paychecks are wondering when they’ll be able to get back to work – or if they’ll even have a job to go back to. So what’s likely to reopen first?

The Badger Bounce Back Plan

When it comes to reopening the country, each state is making its own decisions on when/how to open and which businesses should take priority. In Wisconsin, Gov. Evers recently released the “Badger Bounce Back” Plan “to decrease COVID-19 cases and deaths to a low level and increase capacity in our health care system so that a phased reopening of businesses is possible.”

The Badger Bounce Back Plan has five gating criteria the state must meet before businesses can begin to reopen. They include:

  • Symptoms: a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period AND a downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.
  • Cases: Downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.
  • Hospitals: 95% of hospitals must confirm they can treat all patients without crisis standards of care, and they must be able to test symptomatic clinical staff treating patients.
  • Health care: Downward trend of COVID-19 cases among health care workers calculated weekly.

As of early May 11th, Wisconsin currently meets the criteria for cases and hospitals, but has not yet met the criteria for symptoms and health care. The good news is that nearly all hospitals in Wisconsin are reporting that they can treat all patients without “crisis standards,” and that the number of new cases does appear to be on a downward trend. 

So when the state meets all 4 criteria, who gets to open first?

Wisconsin’s bounce back plan closely resembles the three-phase “Opening Up America Again” plan outlined by the federal government, where restaurants, schools, and daycares can slowly reopen at limited capacity during phase one. Below is a chart of the full Badger Bounce Back plan from the office of Governor Evers:

We know that essential businesses like construction and manufacturing are likely to come back online faster than others. And just last week Gov. Evers announced that retail stores can resume in-person shopping up to 5 customers at a time. When it comes to the rest of businesses reopening, it helps to think of what we absolutely need (like food) and what we can sometimes live without (like trips to a bar).

Although no one is really sure what happens next, the good news is that more people are taking personal responsibility for not spreading the disease. Over half of Americans now say they wear a face mask in public, and most Americans are taking social distancing seriously. As long as we continue to follow social distancing guidelines, practice good hygiene and wear face masks in public places like grocery stores and restaurants, we can help those displaced Paychecks get back to work.


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