What Does the Safer-at-Home Order Say About Going Up North?

Here’s how the order stands right now.

In Wisconsin, going up north is tradition. You gather your loved ones in the car and trek up to the woods for a weekend on the lake or at the cabin, maybe hunting or enjoying some less deadly pastime. But now, everything’s awful, and consequently, it’s almost impossible to predict what going up north could look like come June and July.

Will the Safer-at-Home order be extended again? Will going up north be a permitted activity with your close family (those you’ve already been isolated with) as long as you’re outside? This all depends on what the next month looks like, but here is how the safer at home order right now applies to going up north.

Crucially, the order prohibits all forms of travel, except for “Essential Travel”

Essential travel includes traveling:

  • To work, if it is deemed essential
  • For health and safety (like to a hospital)
  • To get “necessary supplies” (food, medicine, toilet paper, etc.)
  • For outdoor activity, such as visiting a park (if you maintain social distancing guidelines)
  • To care for someone (elderly people, dependents, children, those with disabilities, etc.)
  • To an educational institution to pick up learning materials or to receive meals
  • If it is required by law enforcement or court order (like bringing your child to their other parent’s home, per a custody arrangement)
  • To go back home

The order also says, “Individuals are strongly encouraged to remain at their primary residence or home. Travel to second homes or residences should be avoided if possible.”

So this clearly applies to going up north to a cabin or other property, and the order continues, “Consistent with federal guidance and to protect our neighboring states, Wisconsinites are encouraged to stay close to home and strongly discouraged from engaging in unnecessary travel.”

“Unnecessary” would include purely recreational travel, like going up north for a vacation.

The Wisconsin DNR has also closed camping at all state properties through April 30th, so any camping you may have thought fell under the “outdoor activities” section of essential travel is not really an option. Outdoor activities is essentially a walk or run in the park, while staying far away from everybody.

As it currently stands, going up north is not an allowed, and barring any alterations, that will be the case until May 26th.



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.