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Governor Issues Three-Phase “Badger Bounce Back” Plan For Opening Wisconsin

On April 20, 2020, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued Emergency Order #31, the Badger Bounce Back plan, at the direction of Governor Tony Evers. Order #31 describes a three-phase plan for opening society. Nothing in Order #31 supersedes, alters or modifies Safer at Home Emergency Order #12 or Safer at Home Emergency Order #28, which are still in full force and effect. Rather, Order #31 is a guideline for reopening the state once measurable progress is made on specific criteria.

 Phase One

  • Permits mass gatherings up to 10 people;
  • Opens restaurants with social distancing requirements;
  • Removes certain restrictions for Essential Businesses and Operations;
  • K-12 schools to resume in-person operation; and
  • Child care settings resume operation.

Phase Two

  • Permits mass gatherings of up to 50 people;
  • Allows restaurants to resume full operations;
  • Opens bars with social distancing requirements;
  • Non-essential businesses resume operations with social distancing requirements; and
  • Post-secondary education institutions resume operations.

Phase Three

  • All business activity and gatherings resume with minimal protective and preventative measures in place for the general public; and
  • More protective measures for vulnerable populations.

For the state to progress through these three phases, the Department of Health Services will assess data relating to various criteria to determine when each phase may be implemented. The state must show progress on the criteria before a new phase is implemented. The criteria include the following:


  • Lab tests available to every Wisconsin resident with symptoms of COVID-19 with results reported to public health officials within 48 hours.
  • Conduct 85,000 tests per week, or about 12,000 a day.


  • Implement contact tracing by up to 1,000 people with the assistance of technology.


  • Build on systems used to track influenza and the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Procure PPE and supplies to support health care and public safety agencies.

Health Care Capacity

  • Assess the need for and readiness to support surge capacity for our healthcare system.


  • Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period.
  • Downward trajectory of COVID-19-like syndromic cases reported in a 14-day period.


  • Downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.


  • Treatment of all patients without crisis care; robust testing programs in place for at-risk healthcare workers; and
  • Decreasing numbers of infected healthcare workers.

For questions relating to Order #31, or any other governmental orders regarding COVID-19, please contact Jordan Lamb at


About the Authors

Jordan Lamb is an administrative and regulatory attorney and the Chair of DeWitt’s Government Relations Practice Group. Her law practice is enhanced by her love of all things written and her strong public speaking skills. Her ability to connect with others through writing and public speaking provides the platform for her regulatory practice, which is focused on government relations and environmental law.

She can be reached by email at or by phone at 608-252-9358.

Wesley Webendorfer is an attorney practicing out of our Madison office. He is a member of the Government Relations, Environmental and Litigation practice groups. Contact Wes by email or by phone at (608) 252-9368.

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