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0000017b-185c-d2e5-a37b-5cff92510000Wisconsin State and Local Government Sources: Wisconsin Department of Health Services: COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019)Oneida County Health DepartmentVilas County Health DepartmentLincoln County Health DepartmentMarathon County Health Department Langlade County Health DepartmentWestern Upper Peninsula Health DepartmentForest County Health DepartmentFederal Government Sources:Centers for Disease Control (CDC)Risk Assessment PageSituation Summary PageState Department Travel AdvisoriesWorld Health Organization (WHO)WHO Question and Answer Page

Oneida County Leads Area With Specific Guidance Post-Safer At Home

Oneida County has the most specific COVID-19 guidance in the Northwoods now that the statewide Safer at Home order is no longer in effect.

It comes from a group called Onward Oneida County, which includes health officials, elected leaders, and the business community.

The guidance closely mirrors the state’s Badger Bounce Back program and places the county in Phase 1 of the reopening process.

However, the plan puts some sectors in Phase 2, allowing gatherings of up to 50 people.

It also allows the opening of businesses like hair salons, bars, and theaters with certain restrictions.

“We understand that we do need to get moving. We do need to get our economy going. That is another part of the reason why some of those areas were in Phase 2,” said Oneida County Health Officer Linda Conlon.

Conlon said she considered making the plan an order, which could be enforced by law, but eventually decided to make it only a set of guidelines.

“We were going to go forward with guidelines versus an order because we felt that people would listen,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback that everybody wants to protect their employees. They want to protect their customers.”

The state Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order on Wednesday, removing gathering, business, and health restrictions across the state. That left counties to make their own orders and determinations to move forward during the COVID-19 crisis.

Some counties in southern Wisconsin have extended their own stay-at-home orders.

Conlon said she’s been working with health officers in other counties across the region and state, but the guidelines ultimately speak to what’s best for Oneida County specifically.

“The decision in Oneida County truly was one about, where do we feel we need to be in Oneida County? [We’re] understanding that we are a high-tourist area,” she said.

The county is under Phase 1 of the Onward Oneida County reopening plan with the following less-restrictive exceptions:

  • Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, day spas, tattoo parlors, tanning facilities may open with best practices
  • Outdoor gatherings can have a 50-person maximum, while indoor gatherings can have a 50-person maximum or 25 percent capacity, whichever is less
  • Bars can open with physical distancing and active monitoring of staff
  • Theaters, amusement parks, arcades, trampoline parks, bowling alleys, and related establishments can open with a 50-person maximum or 25 percent capacity, whichever is less
  • Pools and water attractions can open with 50% capacity

Read the entire guidance document here. A related reopening toolkit is here.

See updates on guidance in other Northwoods counties here.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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