The Latest Info for Restaurants in Wisconsin

Coronavirus Recovery - Resources for Restaurants

Susan Quam

For more information, contact:

Susan Quam | Executive Vice President

Best Practices & Resources


As government COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, each individual business will need to decide what is right for their business and their community. WRA will continue to provide guidance and resources to help restaurant operators navigate the pandemic recovery.

Financial Assistance/Restaurant Relief

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

National Restaurant Association Fact Sheets

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

The US Small Business Administration announced extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program until 2022.

Keep in mind that interest continues to accrue during the deferment period and borrowers may make full or partial payments if they choose.

All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note.

All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note.

More Info

EIDL loans may still be available. EIDL Advance is closed and Targeted EIDL Advance has limited eligibility per the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Apply

SBA Website

Heartland Capital

All businesses can have access to loans up to $5 million and access a line of credit up to $500 thousand.  What will be needed to apply:

  • Currently open for business and in business for at least 6 months
  • Can provide six consecutive bank statements
  • Have a credit score of 550 or higher
  • Annual income of at least $100k

You do not need to be a current Heartland customer to apply.

To learn more please text the word “Capital” to 1-414-409-0087 or call 414-973-9128. You may also email Tony Jalan directly at


There are currently no statewide regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.  The governor’s emergency order that included a statewide mask mandate was struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on March 31, 2021.

Keep in mind that businesses must still follow any local public health orders. WRA encourages restaurant operators to contact their local health department or municipality to see what regulations are in place.

Local Health Departments List

As of May 20, 2021; Information is fast changing

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has been working to protect your businesses and champion important policies that provide financial relief and critical support to you and your employees during this difficult and challenging time.

Much Accomplished

Since the onset of the pandemic, WRA’s advocacy efforts helped accomplish the following:

  • Worked with the Ever’s Administration to secure We’re All In Grants for restaurants totaling nearly $65 million
  • Funded  additional rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with special considerations for restaurants
  • Ensure that PPP loan proceeds and paid expenses are tax deductible at the federal level
  • Keep restaurants open in Wisconsin for takeout, drive- through, curbside and delivery as orders from the Governor came through
  • Prohibit any foreclosures or evictions of any licensee until 60 days after the Emergency Order expires
  • Prohibit any insurance cancellations of any licensee until 60 days after the Emergency Order expires
  • Suspend the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance
  • Waive certain parameters related to the Work- Share Program, specifically eliminating the current 20-employee minimum and 2-week waiting period
  • Provide protections for businesses from UI rate increases due to employee layoffs caused by the public health emergency
  • Allow golf courses to re-open to golfers only
  • Provide a 2-month moratorium on all state tax payments and include the opportunity to pay them back in installments to allow businesses to start to get back on their feet first
  • Impose a freeze on Unemployment Insurance rates so that businesses needing to lay off a high amount of employees do not face insurmountable increases in their UI costs
  • Temporarily suspend the 15 day beer credit law and 30 day alcohol credit day law
  • Allow take out of mixed beverage alcohol AKA Cocktails-to-Go for Class B license holders as long as they are contained in a sealed container and include a face-to-face transaction
  • Pass commonsense liability protections to help Wisconsin communities reopen and recover without the threat of frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits
  • Pass state legislation to ensure Wisconsin adopts PPP income tax deductibility provisions
  • Prevent frivolous lawsuits against employers who use POS systems to collect employee tip declarations
  • Advocating on behalf of restaurants in local jurisdictions that have stronger restrictions in place.

On the federal level, lobbying by WRA and the National Restaurant Association helped get specific benefits for the restaurant and hospitality industry in the CARES Act and subsequent relief legislation.

More to Do

WRA is currently working on the following issues on the state and local level:

  • Permit delivery of alcohol through age verified sales via phone/online transactions for Class A and B license holders during the Emergency Order directly or through a third party
  • Prevent the Wisconsin Department of Health Services from releasing names of businesses who have had two or more employees test positive for COVID-19. WRA filed an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit against the department 
  • Continue to educate elected officials, public health advocates, the media and the public on the economic devastation restaurants are experiencing
  • Be “at the table” for federal discussions regarding minimum wage increases and elimination of the tip credit


Suppliers are essential in helping restaurants survive and thrive. We're maintaining a list of suppliers who are partners of the WRA and offering goods and services that are critical during the Coronavirus crisis. Some are also offering special discounts. We'll continue to add to the list so check back often.

Learn More Here



Are you grappling with the issue of an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive? You're not alone. Our Ask WRA Team has received quite a few questions from restaurant operators about this topic.  WRA provides resources with the latest guidance on how to handle the situation.

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Vaccine FAQ


Employers should remember that guidance from public health authorities is likely to change. Therefore, employers should continue to follow the most current information on maintaining workplace safety.

Q.  How soon will my employee be able to get in for the vaccine?

A.  Wisconsin residents age 12 and up are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  How quickly an employee will be able to get a vaccine will vary depending upon the availability of the vaccine in their area.

Q.  How do restaurant employees obtain the COVID vaccine?

A.  As individuals become eligible to receive vaccine, we would encourage them to seek an appointment through the variety of outlets available in Wisconsin. This includes:

Employers can help by encouraging their staff to receive the vaccine and sharing information on where they can find an appointment. Additional detail and resources can be found on the DHS website under Vaccine Partner Resources.

Q. Can an employer require their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A.  Employers may require employees to be vaccinated from the COVID-19 virus. Taking the vaccine will presumably reduce or prevent other employees and customers from being infected. However, you need to be aware that employees with disabilities and religious beliefs who claim that taking the vaccine will either be harmful to them or violate a strongly held religious belief against taking the vaccine may have rights under the federal and state disability laws and religious discrimination laws. For these employees, restaurants may have to provide a reasonable accommodation, unless there is undue hardship, which the ADA defines as significant difficulty or expense for the employer. The restaurant may have to provide the employee who has refused to take the vaccine with a reasonable accommodation unless it would pose an undue hardship, which under Title VII is “more than de minimus cost” to the operation of the employer’s business. This is a lower standard than the undue hardship standard under the ADA.

When confronted with an employee who refuses to take the vaccine due to a disability, the employer can request medical support. Assuming the medical opinion supports the employee, the employer must engage in an interaction discussion with the employee to determine whether there is a reasonable accommodation that would enable the employee to continue to perform their essential job functions without compromising the safety of other employees or customers. Potential accommodations include, but are not limited to, additional personal protective equipment (PPE), such as mask and shield, moving the employee’s workstation beyond 6 feet, a temporary reassignment, teleworking, or a leave of absence. As for those with religious belief, the employer can also seek confirmation from the employee’s religious leader and, if confirmed, engage in the same interactive process discussed above. If there is no reasonable accommodation, the employer can deny the employee’s request to be exempt from taking the vaccine and if the employee still refuses, place the employee on leave or terminate the employee.

When considering whether to require employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine, be advised that the EEOC and other governmental agencies has stated that the COVID-19 virus meets the higher threshold “direct threat standard,” and “a significant risk of substantial harm would be posed to having someone with COVID-19, or symptoms of it, present in the workplace at the current time.”

This information was provided by Barry Chaet from Beck, Chaet, Bamberger & Polsky, SC

Q.  Can I require proof that my employee obtained the vaccine?

A.  Yes.  Employers are permitted to ask employees if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and require proof.  

Q.  Must I keep documentation on file that my employees obtained the vaccine?

A.  Documentation is not required but it is recommended.  This documentation, along with a good COVID prevention policy will help minimize exposure to COVID related claims. It is recommended that you add that staff has obtained the COVID vaccine to your best practices ensuring your customers, community and staff are safe.

Q.  If I require my restaurant employees to get the COVID vaccine, must I pay my employee for the time off to obtain it?  In addition, must I pay for any sick time needed because of getting the vaccine?

A.  No paid time off is required in Wisconsin.  However, if an employer for example, sponsors a bus trip to a vaccine site during the workday, that time may be considered compensable.   Employers with paid leave policies should follow that policy and allow employees to use paid leave to obtain the vaccine.  We are learning that some employers are encouraging staff to obtain the vaccine rather than requiring it by providing paid time off, gift cards or a small bonus.   In addition, side effects from the vaccine are reported as being minor and temporary but you may want to review scheduling to allow for some time off as everyone is different.

Q. Are there other sources of information that I can read about the COVID-19 vaccine?

A. Yes, below are links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

CDC Vaccine Q & As

WEDC Vaccine Guidelines

EEOC Section K near the bottom

Coronavirus and Restaurants FAQ

Teen Labor

My student employee is attending virtual learning classes.  When can this student work?

Scheduling teens during these types of arrangements and these special circumstances will be challenging. Much is determined first by the student’s age:

For ages 14 and 15:

Under Federal law and State law, teens, ages 14 and 15 cannot work during school hours that are established by the school district. There are exceptions of course such as Work Experience and Career Exploration Programs and Work-Study Programs**. Under Federal law, “school hours” are determined by the local public school in the area the minor is residing while employed. “School hours” refers to the hours established by the school district during the regularly scheduled school year and not the hours the individual child is required to attend. 

Once the school district establishes the school hours for example 9am-4pm, 14- and 15-year-olds can only work outside of those hours (subject to the exceptions).

**Special provisions apply to students participating in a state sponsored Work Experience and Career Exploration Program or Work-Study Program authorized by the Department of Labor in accordance with §§ 570.36 or 570.37 of Regulations 29 CFR Part 570.

14- and 15-year-olds

  • After Labor Day through May 31, may not work before 7am or after 7pm.
  • Between June 1 and Labor Day, may not work before 7am or after 9pm.
  • May not work during the school hours established by the school district in the area the minor is residing while employed.
  • May not work more than 6 days a week.
  • May work up to 3 hours on school days and 8 hours on non-school days.
  • May work up to 18 hours during school weeks and 40 hours during non-school weeks.
  • Must receive a 30-minute meal break if working more than 6 consecutive hours. Break may be unpaid.
  • Must have a work permit prior to beginning work. – More information here.  

16- and 17-year-olds

There are currently no Federal laws applying to 16- and 17-year-olds regarding limits on number of work hours per day or week.  All employers in Wisconsin must follow State laws.   

  • May not work during hours of required school attendance.  
  • Must have 8 hours of rest between the end of one shift and the start of the next shift if employed after 11:00pm.
  • Must receive a 30-minute meal break if working more than 6 consecutive hours.  Break may be unpaid.
  • Must be paid overtime for any hours over 10 in a day, even if they work less than 40 in the week.

According to the officials at the Department of Workforce Development, a 16- or 17-year-old is allowed to work at times during the day when school attendance is not required. It is best to obtain documentation from the school district where the employee lives if attendance on a certain day of the week or within normal school hours is not required. For example during this remote learning environment, if check in is required only from 8am-10am on a given day, that student employee may be allowed to work after 10am. But again, this will differ between each school district so have documentation from the school if you plan to schedule this student employee. This allowance applies only to 16- and 17-year-olds.

What is considered a school week or school day for my student employee?

If school is requiring the student to perform some type of remote or virtual learning during any day of the week, that becomes a school week and that day becomes a school day.   If the school district is completely shut down for a day or a week, then that is a non-school day or week and you are free to schedule that student employee as needed.   One school district in our area provides each Wednesday as a “student Independent learning day” and this day is still part of the school week so no work would be allowed on this day during established school hours.

More info

Alcohol Service

Are we allowed to sell beer and wine with delivery if we have a class B liquor license?

As of right now, you are not allowed to sell alcohol with delivery. BUT, with take out or curbside it depends. With takeout, yes, as long as you have a class B liquor license you can sell unopened bottles of wine and beer. If your municipality allows, you can also sell unopened bottles of spirits to customers. Most municipalities do allow the sale of spirits by the bottle by restaurants. Please remember—all sales of alcohol must be made face to face and ID’s checked.

If you do not currently have a license to sell beer, wine and spirits, you cannot sell them to your customers.

For curbside it is best to check with your local municipality for the ability to take alcohol from your building to your parking lot. The ability to accommodate curbside alcohol orders will depend on how your premise is defined on your liquor license. If your parking lot is included in the premise on your liquor license, then you can bring out the beer, wine and spirits to them—again if your municipality allows.

In many areas, local law enforcement is keeping an eye on this issue, so be sure you are following the law and make sure you are checking ID’s for all customers.

Can I sell mixed drinks in a covered and packaged container made by our restaurant/bar?

Yes. Restaurants can sell craft cocktails and wine by the glass to customers for carryout. The cocktails to go law went into effect on March 28, 2021.  WRA advocated for this measure for over 10 months and we are pleased that this is now an option for restaurants.

Cocktails sold to-go must be in a container with a tamper evident seal. “Tamper-evident seal” means a device or material that is used to securely and fully close off a container, with no perforations, in such a manner that access to the contents of the container cannot be gained without showing evidence of tampering. This means a restaurant cannot put a cocktail in a plastic cup with a lid and a straw. Until the Department of Revenue issues official guidance on tamper evident seals, WRA strongly urges you to securely seal cocktails with heat seal bands, strong tape/stickers or invest in jars and pouches specifically created for to-go beverages that need to be sealed.


More Info


Are there any restrictions to making additional employees delivery drivers?

You will need to check with your insurance carrier what steps need to be completed. Know that minors are not allowed to do much with delivery. 

More Info on Teen Labor

What insurance coverage is needed if I plan to have employees deliver food?

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.  The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) further believes that it would be impractical and untimely for these restaurants to shop for coverage that includes coverage for non-owned autos.

For these reasons, OCI orders all insurers who provide commercial general liability coverage to a restaurant to notify their restaurant insureds that hired and non-owned auto coverage is available if requested.  If the insured restaurant requests hired and non-owned auto coverage, the insurer shall, either through a rider or stand-alone policy, provide this coverage to any insured restaurant for no additional cost.

This order shall apply to all commercial general liability policies in effect on or after March 17, 2020.  The coverage afforded shall be effective upon the date it is requested.  Insurers who offer retroactive coverage may request that the insured certify that they have not incurred any potential claims in the period of retroactive coverage.  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.

In addition, delivery drivers are now covered under their personal auto policy.  It is strongly suggested each employee now classified as a delivery driver contact their own auto carrier and inform them of the change. Again, this is suggested, not required. 

What is a normal insurance requirement for delivery drivers?

Any employee using their own automobile for deliveries should make sure their own automobile insurance covers them for liability in the unlikely event an accident happens. If you are having employees deliver as part of your new business plan, you must contact your insurance broker. At minimum you as the business owner MUST have non-owned and hired automobile coverage added to your package policy and/or automobile policy.  

Here are the general rules most insurance companies will enforce:

  1. Drivers must have valid driver’s license with minimum three years licensed driving experience.
  2. Ask driver if they have had any violations or accidents in the last three years—two minor violations may be acceptable. If any more violations than that, do not let them drive.
  3. Ask driver if they have any major violations in last five years such as DUI, speeding in excess, reckless driving or any suspension or revocation. If the driver cannot answer no, than this is a red flag and driving for your business should not be allowed.
  4. If you want employee to use own vehicles, remind drivers that their personal insurance will pay first. 
  5. Get a copy of driver’s current auto declaration page—many personal auto policies have exclusions for delivery. 
  6. The employee should verify coverage for delivery. If no coverage on personal policy, don’t let them drive for your business.
  7. If employee is assigned to driving duties, you should add work comp classification code 7380 to your work comp policy as well. The rate set by the State is $6.37 per hundred dollars of payroll for each employee driving. 

Protect yourself and your business. Reach out to your trusted broker to have the proper coverage added to your policy BEFORE it’s too late.

What are best practices for health and safety relating to food pick up and delivery?

The Food and Drug Administration recently posted a document entitled “Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. 

More Info


What is the best practice for condiment use?

It is important to follow proper cleaning and sanitizing practices for condiments – both in bottles and packages. Bottles on tables and pump dispensers are allowed but should be safely cleaned and sanitized frequently. Best practice is to clean bottles on tables between each customer use.

Restaurants Selling Grocery Items or Packaged Foods

As the COVID-19 continues, restaurants are looking to other ways they can help consumers purchase not only meals for takeout, but also some basic grocery items like eggs, milk and bread. Below is some guidance to begin offering basic grocery items.

Do I need a grocery store license?

Grocery stores and restaurants operate as licensed food establishments, and follow the same food safety and packaging rules so no you do not need a grocery store license.

What items can I sell?

We recommend you consider selling pre-packaged goods, such as gallons of milk, loaf of bread or a dozen eggs.  We do not recommend selling bulk items by the pound, unless you have a scale that complies with Wisconsin’s weights and measures rules.  More information on weights and measures rules can be found here.

If you would like to sell items that you bake/cook in your restaurant, such as a loaf of bread, you need to follow state and federal labeling requirements. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Food and Drug Administration has temporarily relaxed the requirement for nutrition information on food labels.  For restaurants that wish to sell packaged food to consumers directly, or to other businesses for sale to consumers, the FDA does not intend to object if the packaged food lacks a Nutrition Facts label, provided that the food does not have any nutrition claims and contains other required information on the label, including the following, as applicable:

  • a statement of identity,
  • an ingredient statement,
  • the name and place of the business of the food manufacturer, packer, or distributor,
  • net quantity of contents, and
  • allergen information required by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act.

You can also sell a “meal kit” that contains all of the items needed to for the customer to cook at home. Similar to single items, you will need to provide a sheet of paper or label that complies with the above requirements. There must be an ingredient statement for each of the items in the meal kit, unless you are using prepackaged items that has its own list of ingredients on the label.  Items such as meat and poultry should have a weight included, such as “two 12-ounce steaks”. Unless you have a scale that complies with weights and measures rules, you purchase pre-weighed and packaged meat products from your suppliers.

What price can I sell my items for?

Wisconsin has laws that prevents price gouging in times of crisis. The Governor must declare the state is experiencing is in a period of abnormal economic disruption—which Governor Evers has. Once declared, wholesalers and retailers are prohibited from selling consumer goods or services that are subject to the order at prices that are not more than 15 percent above pre-declaration prices. However retailers are permitted to pass on their cost increases. Here is a simple example:  if you purchased a gallon of milk from your supplier for $2.00 you cannot sell it for $5.00, unless you are hearing from your supplier that it is raising its price to $4.00 per gallon.  You need to use some common sense to the market prices in your area and not take advantage of your regular customers.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is developing an official guide for restaurants who wish to conduct grocery store activities. When that guide is available it will be posted here. Please check back for additional information. Questions can be directed to Susan Quam at 608-270-9950 or



Because of the challenges presented by COVID-19, ServSafe has developed a number of free resources aimed at keeping our workers and the dining public safe. Free courses include ServSafe Reopening Guidance: COVID-19 Precautions, ServSafe Delivery: COVID-19 Precautions and ServSafe Takeout: COVID-19 Precautions.

Access Free Training 

Labor Shortage Posters


Spread the Love, Not the Pandemic and many more posters can be found in Workforce Resources.

Download Poster

More Labor Shortage Posters

Customer Appreciation Posters

WRA has created posters and social media images for restaurants to download and display. Choose your favorite poster to display at your location and/or share one of the images to your social media accounts to show your customers that you appreciate their continued support.






  • Poster (with space for text or your logo)
  • Social Media (with space for text or your logo)





Handwashing is the most effective means of preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses and can prevent contamination of food, utensils and equipment. Training is key! Don’t assume that your employees know the proper way to wash their hands.

To encourage employees to properly wash their hands, WRA created several new handwashing posters.

More Info