City of Milwaukee to lift capacity restrictions for businesses

Indoor mask requirement will remain

Milwaukee City Hall
Milwaukee City Hall

Last updated on May 18th, 2021 at 11:15 am

Occupancy and gathering-size limits for businesses and events in the city of Milwaukee will be lifted on June 15.

Mayor Tom Barrett and city health commissioner Kirsten Johnson announced Thursday morning the lifting of many of the restrictions that have been in place to varying degrees for the past 14 months to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“After enduring a year of personal and economic sacrifice, this is a reason to celebrate,” Barrett said. “We have an opportunity to return to a version of normal; not normal, but a version of normal.”

While limits on gathering sizes and occupancy will be eliminated for businesses and events, Johnson said the city will continue to recommend “physical distancing wherever possible.”

Masking indoors will continue to be enforced, Johnson said.

“We are really leaning into the masking restriction, that is it,” she said.

Barrett said as the city moves to its next phase of reopening, the emphasis will be on getting more people vaccinated.

“Vaccinations are the key in allowing us to move forward,” he said.

Johnson and Barrett cited downward trends in COVID-19 cases, lower positive test percentages and fewer deaths as indications that the city is heading in the right direction.

As of two weeks ago, the city had a rate of 113 cases per 100,000 people. Earlier this week, it was down to 82 per 100,000. The city’s test positivity rate is 4%.

“We’re reaching a point where we recognize that this disease is just going to exist in our population, it’s going to be endemic,” Johnson said.

Following the city’s announcement, the Milwaukee Brewers announced that American Family Field will return to 100% capacity with games starting on Friday, June 25. Earlier this week the Milwaukee Bucks and Brewers announced they would be allowed to expand capacity at their home games to 50%, with masking still being enforced.

Barrett said city leaders would share more details about the new protocols in a call with reporters this afternoon.

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president Tim Sheehy applauded the city’s announcement, calling it a “huge positive step toward full economic recovery” in the region.

“Being able to reach a point where the emphasis can shift away from government controls and safety mandates to increased business flexibility and individual responsibility is a validation of the hard work and sacrifice by so many individuals and businesses who made the tough choices necessary to slow the spread of COVID,” Sheehy said. “We urge continued vigilance by the entire community to make the commonsense choices necessary to keep our region healthy and allow our economy to return to full strength.”

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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