Coronavirus - Ongoing Updates for Baking Industry in Wisconsin

Looking for information about the Coronavirus? 


Every day keeps bringing new information and developments regarding the coronavirus and we are in unprecedented times. We are working closely with the Wisconsin Restaurant Association to provide you with the latest updates and also communication tools you can implement for your business.

Here is what we know about Coronavirus: 

  • More contagious than the seasonal flu (mainly because the incubation period is longer – 4-14 days, instead of about 1-5 days). Each infected person infects 1-3 others.
  • More deadly than the seasonal flu for older people and those with underlying health conditions.
  • The cases and fatality numbers tend to double every 2-7 days in the early spread of the disease.
  • Without taking steps to slow the spread, the assumption is that Wisconsin will quickly have tens of thousands of cases and hospitalizations – all in a short time frame. This would overwhelm the health care system. That is why we are seeing all of the canceling of all the events – to prevent the spread in very large gatherings.

Preparing for COVID-19

In the case of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently advises that common symptoms include flu-like symptoms (fever (100° F or higher), cough or sore throat, headache or body aches, and in some cases diarrhea and vomiting) or symptoms of respiratory illness (fever (100° F or higher), cough, and shortness of breath). In order to slow or stop the spread of these illnesses, it is critical to follow the below instructions, which is guidance from the CDC as of 3/11/2020.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:  

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask. 
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 (at home or in a health care setting).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

The first piece of good news is that food is not a known issue with this virus. It is mostly spread through respiratory droplets. The second piece of good news is that this virus, unlike influenza, is controllable and effective measures we take can make a difference.

What can you do? What should you do?

  • Keep sick employees at home, PERIOD!
  • Wash hands obsessively.
  • Clean, clean, clean and clean — especially door handles, menus, guest surfaces, creamer bottles - anything that anybody touches in your bakery.
  • Space seating areas farther apart by either removing seating and spreading tables out or only seating a portion of your dining area and leaving empty tables.
  • Have guests see staff cleaning surfaces, such as counters, door handles, etc. Do not wait until closing time.
  • Beef up your to-go offerings. Add a "car hop" wherein customers can place orders and staff will bring them directly to cars. 

Be strategic

  • Develop a short message on how you are going to talk to your guests and have all team members learn it, practice it and stick to it.
  • Determine your cash reserves now, how long can you go with minimum revenue?
  • Determine the profit margin you need to protect the long-term health of your business.
  • Treat your employees how you would want to be treated. The last few years that we’ve faced a shortage of employees have reinforced for all of us the value of great employees. If you are doing layoffs or temporary closures, support them in their effort to apply for unemployment insurance. Over-communicate during this time so they value your honesty and transparency. Do what you can so when this ends their first instinct is to come back to you. They like you, have bills to pay and families to support.

Be a leader
Act when you need to and don’t let fear cripple good decisions. Layoffs, menu simplification and temporary closures are brutal decisions you may need to make. But we are going to get to the other side of this as an industry – and I want you still part of that when we do.

This is the fourth industry crisis in the past 3 decades or so (cryptosporidium and E-coli outbreaks, 9-11 terrorist attacks and The Great Recession). Here is what we know for sure.

  1. This too will pass.
  2. There is great reason for hope. The long-term future is still bright.
  3. Your association will continue to be here for you and your businesses.

What is the WBA doing?

The association has been working on the messaging that now is not the time to panic and we need to be smart while going about our daily lives.

Please feel free to download and use the following letter, printing and posting it on your door, and/or share on social media.

Letter to Valued Bakery Guests

Important Resources About COVID-19:

State of Wisconsin
Live Outbreak Map


As your baking industry trade association, we want to remain in continuous contact with all of our members. These past few weeks have definitely been new territory for most of us. This past Friday, we sent out an email with an update on the Coronavirus along with an example letter for our members to download and customize to communicate with customers.

Here at the WBA, we are doing all we can to help in whatever way possible. We have been staying in contact with our partners at the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, Wisconsin Grocers Association, Retail Bakers of America and the American Bakers Association. Below you will find some great links with helpful information.

WBA will continue to actively monitor local, state and federal government for changes specific to the COVID-19 emergency. This email is an up-to-date (as of 3/16) overview of all pending and active COVID-19. We will keep our members updated regularly as new information becomes available. With the growing concern over the virus, we feel it is increasingly important to share any updates we may receive to keep you updated and informed.

Information and Links: 

  • What should you do as an employer: (link)
  • What to do if an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19: (link)
  • COVID-19 and food safety/safe food products: (link)  

SBA Will Provide Disaster Assistance Loans: (link)

SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Further resources can be found in the attached document as well as on SBA's website: and

PATH Act - Charitable Donation of Food - Tax Information:

The PATH Act will help you on the donations you are making to feed the hungry. Please forward this to your Accountant to make sure you are set up to use this next year if you are not already using it.

Unemployment Insurance: 

Wisconsin unemployment benefits are available to any individual who is unemployed through no fault of his/her own. If an employer must lay off employees due to the loss of production caused by the coronavirus, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria. More answers and information can be found here. 

DOL Announces New Guidance on Unemployment Insurance Flexibilities: (link)

DOL announced new guidance outlining flexibilities that states have in administering their unemployment insurance (UI) programs to assist Americans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak

Department of Energy Coronavirus Resources: (link)

DOE is coordinating closely with the White House and our interagency partners in the unified response to the Coronavirus. DOE leadership will be issuing further guidance as the situation evolves.

Gatherings Over 50 people Banned Statewide: (link)

The State of Wisconsin put into effect today, March 16th, an order that prohibits mass gatherings of 50 people or more.

Among some other exemptions, businesses are allowed to operate as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • Operate at 50 percent of seating capacity or 50 total people, whichever is less;
  • Preserve social distancing of 6 feet between tables, booths, bar stools and ordering counters; and
  • Prohibit customers from self-dispensing all unpackaged food and beverage. This includes samples!

This order goes into effect as of 12:01 am, March 17th. It will be in effect for the duration of the public health emergency declared in Governor Evers' Executive Order or until a superseding order is issued.

Additional Tips For Surviving Coronavirus:

  • Tightly manage your labor.
  • Gear up for curb-side/take-out/delivery options.
  • Plan ahead and reach out to customers with orders scheduled throughout the next few weeks to confirm events, offer creative alternatives, or if possible, reschedule.

We will continue doing everything we can to support our bakery members
and industry partners and will do our best to keep you informed and answer your questions. If there is anything we can do to help, please let us know!  Our office is "virtual" so there will be no disruption of service to the industry and to our members.

Please continue to take all precautionary measures for yourself and your staff as well.

Thank you for all that you do! We are WBA and we will get through this together! 


Today, Governor Evers issued a further ban on public gatherings lowering the number from 50 to 10 people. Retail food establishments may remain open but must close all seating intended for consuming food.  In addition, the prohibition on self-service operations will remain in effect and includes ceasing self-service salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets and prohibits customers from self-dispensing all unpackaged food. In addition, no dine-in services are allowed. Take-out and/or delivery service is permitted. Customers still need to preserve social distancing of six feet between customers during pick-up. These new requirements are effective at 5:00 pm today.  The full order can be found here.

The Evers administration is working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to respond to and monitor this situation, and we want to reinforce that Wisconsin has incredible health professionals who are up to the task. You can find the most recent information and guidance on the DHS website at, and any further questions can be directed to their response line at 

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided guidance on large gatherings and business operations, which you can find on their website at 

A quick update. We asked for further clarification for bakeries regarding the latest order from the Governor:…/COVID19/UPDATEDOrder10People.pdf Bakeries are considered exempt. You may remain open if you choose to. However, this means that at this time, only take-out (curbside pickup) or delivery are allowed. No dine in. No self service. Continue practicing social distancing and recommendations from the CDC. This is fluid and we will keep you updated regularly! Things may change in the days ahead. Hang in there!

Here are a few printable signs from our friends at BakeMark:

Clarifications on Self-Serving and Self-Dispensing From Jim Kaplanek, DATCP 
"Questions have come in regarding what is considered self-serving operations and self-dispensing. It is our understanding that this means retail food establishments shall limit the use of self-dispensing packages. We would advise that any device, bottle, scoop, lever, or other handle that is touched by multiple customers without a thorough cleaning and sanitizing step between customers be taken out of service."

Specific Question on Water Stations and Coffee-Grinding
We've had several questions and clarifications on the self-serve ban. We were asked if coffee-grinding stations and refillable water stations needed to be shut down. We asked DATCP's Food Safety Division on these two specifically, and they said, yes, both need stations require customers to touch handles or levers and cannot be cleaned between each customer and therefore are banned during the emergency.

What to Expect from Food Safety Inspections During Emergency
DATCP shared the following information which was provided to food safety inspectors: "In the dairy, retail/rec, and manufactured foods sections, we are working to define what are being called "focused food safety visits" - essentially brief interactions with licensed businesses to ensure that they know how to contact us for help and that business operators understand and practice the basics for public health and safety. In particular, we will make sure operators of retail food establishments (including restaurants) are aware of the requirements in Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm's order of March 17 (restaurant/bar/grocery bans). Each section (dairy/retail/rec/manufactured foods) will develop their own "focused food safety visits" that are appropriate to the needs of their industry and conducted in a way best appropriate to fulfilling our essential function in a socially distancing manner."

SBA Assistance on the Horizon
Gov. Tony Evers today submitted a request to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance for small Wisconsin businesses and private, non-profit organizations to help alleviate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. According to a release from the Governor's office, "Social distancing and self-isolation are critical steps in reducing and preventing the spread of this virus in our communities, but it comes at an economic cost to our local businesses," said Gov. Evers. "The loan assistance from SBA will help alleviate some of the financial burden and stress on our small businesses during this public health crisis. We will continue to work with our federal partners, state officials, and stakeholders to ensure we are improving public safety and health while protecting our state economy." Surveys of businesses over the past several days, as well as inquiries into our Joint Incident Command, illustrate that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on a variety of businesses within Wisconsin, most notably hospitality, event hosting and support, and small retail businesses dependent upon daily traffic. A survey of these affected businesses was conducted to determine the economic impact of their losses for the disaster period as compared to the same period in the preceding year.

COVID-19 Recordkeeping Requirements
OSHA has updated recordkeeping requirements specific to COVID-19 Exposures: 
COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are met: The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (click here to see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19); The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work). The updated information also provides information related to worker exposure and identify and isolating suspected COVID-19 cases. The requirements discuss protecting workers in close contact with an infected person and define "close contact" as being about six (6) feet (approximately two (2) meters) from an infected person or within the room or care area of an infected patient for a prolonged period while not wearing recommended PPE. Close contact also includes instances where there is direct contact with infectious secretions while not wearing recommended PPE. Close contact generally does not include brief interactions, such as walking past a person. For more information click here.


Update: Take-Out Orders

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has provided this clarification on the definition of “takeout” in the emergency order issued by Gov. Tony Evers.

While bakeries are considered exempt, they still should not have seating for consuming food, no self-service, and no self-dispensing of unpackaged food.

Online and phone orders can be picked up and paid for in person, provided there is social distancing of 6 feet between customers.

Orders can be made onsite, limiting the total number of customers inside the establishment at one time to fewer than 10, if social distancing can be maintained during order, payment and pickup.

Bakery Survey

We are gathering bakery information to share with the public who are providing delivery, curbside service, and/or carry-out/to-go in the next few weeks in response to the limitations and suggestions that are in place as a result of the Coronavirus. Please provide us with information about your bakery here:

Call To Action

Join WBA, RBA, and the National Restaurant Association to take action today! Congress is looking to pass a broad economic rescue package that the Trump administration estimates will be around $1.3 trillion. We need your help to ensure relief is properly addressed:

Gatherings Limited to 10 or Less

Gov. Evers limited gatherings to 10 or less people for the health and safety of the public. If you have questions about how the latest order impacts your business, here is a link to FAQs. Have questions about what Emergency Order 5 means for your operations? DATCP is available to help. Contact DATCP at

Gov. Evers Request to SBA for Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance

Gov. Evers submitted a request to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance for small Wisconsin businesses and private, non-profit organizations to help alleviate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. Gov. Evers request to SBA can be found here.

Bakers: Thank you for #FeedingUS

To recognize the efforts of the baking and foodservice industry, along with the American Bakers Association, we invite all groups and companies in the food sector to do the same – to honor all of those who are #FeedingUS. As a special way to recognize the nearly 800,000 skilled men and women working in the baking industry in America, we also encourage using the hashtag #BakingStrong. Here is a link to ABA's toolkit with messaging, templates, and social media graphics.


Tips for Bakeries in the COVID-19 Environment

Our friends at Dawn Foods have shared this article with key business strategies to help maintain customers, work smarter, and get more out of less as everyone adjusts to our “new normal”. There is some really good information on this link! Over the next few weeks, Dawn Foods will be sharing content thru Dawn's social and digital channels to offer support, tips & tricks and business guidance to help you navigate today’s business environment.

Safer at Home Order from the Governor

Governor Evers will be ordering Wisconsinites to stay at home and closing non-essential businesses. The good news is that bakeries are considered essential so they can remain open. However, we are working to get clarity on what further restrictions may be needed to keep you and your staff safe while performing these essential functions. There is much to be clarified and as soon as we have the information, we will continue to get it out to you.

To help you plan for this while we get the information, we suggest following these steps below as recommended by WRA:

  • Send the Essential Employee form (click button below for page with link to Essential Employee form) to all of your employees who will be working in your business and be sure to carry this with you. We worked this weekend with the Restaurant Law Center on the possibility of this happening and have this ready to go for you. Fill in the appropriate blanks and make sure all your staff have one in their possession at this time.
  • Prepare in case face-to-face orders are banned. Some ideas include:
  • Posting your phone number in a window and have an order called or texted in on the spot.
  • Make sure your online order platforms are ready to go.
  • Ensuring that you have ample take out containers so that you’ll be functioning.

Additional Information from DATCP

  • The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) wants to provide additional information related to Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency order prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 people or more. This order contains an exemption for manufacturing, processing, distribution and production facilities.

    We have received numerous questions about how this order applies to food processing plants. One common question: Are food and beer plants considered essential services? I am concerned that operations are continuing without social distancing.

    Here is some guidance and clarification:

    • Licensed food processing plants including, but not limited to, beer plants are considered essential services. This designation is supported by guidance from the federal Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
    • Your personal safety and efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are important. Emergency Order No. 5 states that manufacturing, processing, distribution and production facilities are exempt from the requirement that gatherings must preserve social distancing of 6 feet between people. However, following Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommendations, it's suggested that you do whatever you can to practice social distancing and maintain good hygiene. Learn why it’s important.

    This order remains in effect for the duration of the public health emergency declared in executive Order No. 72, or until a superseding order is issued.                

    We will be using GovDelivery to send critical information to the manufactured food industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you know others within your organization who would benefit from these updates, please forward the signup link:

    The Food and Drug Administration offers answers to common questions, and the State of Wisconsin created a webpage with other valuable resources. Here are a few additional links and resources that might be helpful during this challenging time:

    So we can provide a consistent response to COVID-19 concerns, please direct questions to or call (608) 224-4683. Thank you for your patience.

    The Wisconsin Bakers is in contact with DHS, DATCP, and WRA to get further clarifications. When we have additional information, we will keep you informed!

Insurance Mandated for Carryout and Delivery   

We just received a bulletin from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, part of which I have pasted below. Please check with your insurance provider regarding coverage!


On March 17, 2020, the Department of Health Services issued Emergency Order #5 which ordered the closures of all bars and restaurants to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Under the order, restaurants may remain open for delivery service.  As such, restaurants that do not normally offer delivery may begin delivery service.  Employees who typically do not deliver food may be called on to temporarily provide food delivery services using their own insured personal vehicles. OCI has worked with the insurance industry to remove any insurance barriers that may prevent a restaurant from beginning delivery service with their employees.

Coverage for Delivery Drivers under Personal Auto Policies

Personal lines automobile policies do not typically provide coverage for vehicles used for commercial purposes, like food delivery. As a result, in the absence of any other action, many of the anticipated temporary food delivery drivers would be uninsured.

OCI further believes that it would be impractical and untimely for these drivers to temporarily obtain coverage for this limited purpose.  Therefore, OCI orders that Insurers shall not deny a claim under a personal auto policy solely because the insured was engaged in delivering food on behalf of a restaurant impacted by the restaurant closure.

This order shall apply to all personal auto policies in effect on or after March 17, 2020.  Insurers shall provide this coverage for all claims that arise from an occurrence beginning on the date this bulletin was issued. Insurers may, at their own discretion, provide retroactive coverage beginning on March 17, 2020.  This order shall remain in effect until the public health emergency order is lifted, in whole or in part, to permit restaurants to resume normal operations.

This coverage is not required to be afforded to drivers who otherwise have coverage for deliveries through their personal policy or another policy.  This coverage also does not apply to drivers working for a transportation network company or similar delivery company.  This coverage is only afforded to delivery drivers who do not have such coverage and this coverage does not stack with any coverage that is currently afforded.

Hired and Non-owned Auto Coverage

It is common for restaurants who employ delivery drivers who use their own car to obtain hired and non-owned auto coverage for liability incurred by those drivers.  This is often offered as a rider to a commercial general liability policy.  Since many of the restaurants who may begin delivery services did not anticipate the need for this coverage, it is likely that their commercial general liability policy will not include a hired and non-owned auto coverage rider.  OCI further believes that it would be impractical and untimely for these restaurants to shop for coverage that includes coverage for non-owned autos.

Paid sick leave: Who is eligible during the coronavirus outbreak?

The recent legislation signed by President Trump, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), grants two weeks of paid sick leave at 100 percent of the person’s normal salary, up to $511 per day. The legislation also provides up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave at 67 percent of the person’s normal pay, up to $200 per day. The legislation generally applies to employers with 500 or fewer workers. Specifically (to the extent known at his time):

1. Sick leave is to be paid at the usual pay rate. You do not have to have the coronavirus to get the benefit: The two weeks of paid sick leave apply to anyone told to quarantine, showing symptoms, exposed to the virus or trying to get a test or preventive care. That is a broad definition. The IRS will probably have to come up with an exact rule, but it is clear Congress wants to avoid a situation in which everyone is trying to get a doctor’s note to qualify.

2. Family leave is to be paid at two‐thirds of the usual pay rate. Qualifying for family leave is different. A person is eligible to take up to three months of paid leave to care for a child whose school or child‐care facility is closed due to the coronavirus.

3. Sick Pay is capped at $511 per day and Paid Family leave is capped at $200 per day. In other words, paid sick leave would fully compensate employees earning up to about $130,000 a year for that two‐week period, and paid family and medical leave would fully compensate employees earning up to about $75,000 a year for the three‐month period.

4. Exemptions can be obtained from the Labor Department. If the benefit would, per the language in the legislation, “would jeopardize the viability of the business.” Further clarification of this requirement and process has yet to be provided.

5. The legislation covers union employers who are part of a multi‐employer agreement.

6. Many part‐time workers are covered as well. The bill says part‐time employees also get paid sick leave equivalent to the number of hours they typically work during a two‐week period. So, if a person usually works 20 hours a week, they are eligible for up to 40 hours of pay. (Remember, this particular bill does not mandate paid sick leave for workers at big companies, so part‐time workers might not be covered at those employers.)

7. Self‐employed individuals are eligible for a tax credit of up to two weeks of sick pay at their average pay and 12 weeks of family leave pay at two‐thirds their normal rate. These workers must show they had to comply with a self‐isolation recommendation or that they had to care for a child whose school closed due to the coronavirus. Their benefit is capped at $511 per day for paid sick leave and $200 for family leave (or the average daily income the person usually receives if it is less than those amounts). The tax credit can be applied against a person’s income taxes, and it is refundable, meaning taxpayers will get a government rebate if their sick or family leave pay was greater than their tax bill.

8. Employers are eligible for payroll tax credits. Employers will receive 100% reimbursement/credit for paid leave pursuant to the Act. The IRS will provide guidance next week (week of 3/23) on how the reimbursement/credit will be claimed through federal payroll tax deposits and the filing of Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

9. Non‐enforcement period. The Department of Labor (labor) will be issuing a temporary non‐enforcement policy that provides a period of time to come into compliance with the Act. Under this policy, labor will not bring an enforcement action against any employer for violations of the Act so long as the employer has acted reasonably in good faith to comply with the Act. Labor will instead focus on compliance assistance during the 30‐day period.

State and Federal Tax Deadlines Delayed  

Both federal and Wisconsin income tax payments and return due dates are automatically extended to July 15, 2020.  Wisconsin law will automatically extend time and waive interest and penalties for taxpayers due to a presidentially declared disaster.

  • Tax filers do not have to file any extension forms to be eligible for this new due date.
  • There is no limit on the amount of payment to be postponed, and there are no income exclusions.
  • This applies to individuals, trusts, estates, partnerships, associations, companies or corporations.
  • This relief is solely for income tax payments, estimated income tax payments and returns due April 15, 2020.
  • There will be no interest or penalty for the period of April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.

Interest, penalties, and underpayment interest for failure to make quarterly estimated tax payments with respect to such postponed federal income tax filings and payments will begin to accrue on July 16, 2020.

Utility Changes  

Governor Evers has suspended several utility-related rules:

  • Stop utility disconnection for nonpayment for all customers, including commercial, industrial, and farm accounts. Previously this applied to residential accounts only;
  • Cease assessing late fees to customer accounts;
  • Halt the practice of requiring deposits from customers for reconnection of service;
  • Allow deferred payment agreements for all customers who request them;
  • Remove any administrative barriers for customers establishing or reestablishing utility service; and
Authorize water utilities to provide budget billing arrangements to customers. Electric and natural gas utilities are allowed to do this under current rules.

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