Help us stay #HodagStrong
COVID-19: Information for travelers
Updated May 8, 2020
What’s the situation in Wisconsin right now?
The state of Wisconsin is under a “Safer at Home” order until May 26, which means state residents are ordered to “stay at home or at their place of residence.” People can only leave their homes for essential activities (which notably includes outdoor activity), essential government functions, to operate essential businesses and operations (including grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.), to perform non-essential minimum basic operations at businesses, for essential travel, or for other special situations (to receive or administer health care, human service operations or essential infrastructures like food production and construction).
See the full order from Gov. Tony Evers here.
See the latest from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services here.
So what does that mean for travel? Can I come to Rhinelander?
“Essential travel” is permitted under the state order, but that only applies to a limited amount of categories, including travel to care for family members or dependents, travel related to any of the categories listed above, and travel “to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction.”
According to the state’s Safer at Home FAQs “all forms of travel are prohibited unless explicitly excepted.” Regarding vacation homes or second residences, the state strongly encourages everyone to remain at their primary residence or home: “Travel to second homes within Wisconsin and outside of Wisconsin and to Tribal territory is discouraged.”
Have there been any COVID-19 cases in Rhinelander or Oneida County?
See the latest information from Oneida County Public Health here.
When will this end?
As mentioned above, the state’s Safer at Home order currently runs through May 26, but the state has started loosening some restrictions associated with the order. For instance, golf courses have already opened with some restrictions, and state parks and trails opened with some restrictions on May 1.
Can I come to the Rhinelander area for outdoor recreation?
As noted above, the Safer at Home order requires people to stay at home until May 26 (unless a contravening order is issued), and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control recommends people stay at home as much as a possible and avoid close contact with others, especially if you are at higher risk of severe illness.
However, if you are already in the area, you may travel to local, county and state parks for walks, hikes and bike rides.
Are trails and other recreational areas open?
Rhinelander’s recreational trails and parks remain open for use for people in the area (note that facilities like bathrooms are closed). Visit our website to find more information about recreational options like hiking, biking, ATving, paddling and fishing.
All state linear trails (that is, hiking, biking and ATV trails) are open, and the Willow Flowage near Rhinelander is also also open. See more information from the WIDNR here.
Are campsites open?
Even though many state parks and forest sites reopened in May, camping remains closed at WIDNR sites through May 26, 2020.
Some private campsites have chosen to open with increased safety measures in place; please contact specific businesses with questions. See a press release from the Oneida County Health Department regarding the opening of local campsites here.
How about fishing?
DNR boat launches are open at open state properties. As part of the state’s easing of some restrictions, businesses with recreational rentals (boats, canoes, kayaks, etc.) were allowed to open the week of April 27.
All anglers and recreational boaters should practice social distancing and keep travel to a minimum. According to the Wisconsin DNR: “If individuals can lawfully access Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes, they are free to navigate upon them while engaging in outdoor recreation.”
Click here to learn about fishing in the Rhinelander area.
Lodging, restaurants & other businesses
Are Rhinelander’s lodging properties open?
Again, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends state residents cancel or postpone all nonessential travel—including travel within Wisconsin—due to widespread community transmission of COVID-19. According to the state, “individuals who spend time outside their home community have some risk of exposure to COVID-19.”
However, if travel is unavoidable, many lodging properties in the Rhinelander Area remain open. Contact specific businesses for details.
What about restaurants and other businesses?
If you’re already in the Rhinelander Area, you may patronize businesses deemed essential under the Safer at Home order. See the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce’s list of the latest businesses changes and updates for restaurants, stores and other businesses here.
Also, if you want to support local Rhinelander businesses, order your own special edition #HodagStrong t-shirt before May 15!