Mayor Tom Barrett says Milwaukee’s stay-at-home order remains in effect

City of Racine also extends 'Safer at Home' restrictions

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Last updated on May 14th, 2020 at 02:16 pm

The city of Milwaukee will continue to enforce its own stay-at-home order, Mayor Tom Barrett said Wednesday evening, following the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order.

The city order, issued in tandem with Evers’ “Safer at Home” order in late March, includes bans on public gatherings, non-essential business, operations and travel, in an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. It does not have an end date.

“That order remains in effect, including all provisions on public gatherings, restaurants, and bar operations,” Barrett said in a statement Wednesday evening. 

Earlier Wednesday, before the court issued its decision, Barrett said Milwaukee County’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Council – a body that includes leaders from each of the county’s 19 municipalities – had been preparing for such an outcome by developing a county reopening plan. 

“We have not been wasting any time,” Barrett said. “And we’ve been working to have, ready to go, if necessary, a local order that would deal with the reopening of businesses. And that’s what our goal is – our goal is to reopen businesses but to reopen them in a safe fashion.” 

Barrett cautioned against opening business too soon.

“If there was just a light switch, and we said the businesses are reopened, there’s absolutely no guarantee that people would have the confidence to go into businesses,” he said. “So we have to make sure that people not only are safe but they feel safe.”

The city of Racine also announced late Wednesday it would extend “Safer at Home” restrictions, effective immediately, until May 26, when the state’s order was originally set to expire. 

“I know these are very difficult and highly unusual times, but Public Health’s responsibility is to mediate and maintain the safety and welfare of our residents,” Racine public health administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox said. “I am therefore adopting the provisions of Safer At Home locally and ordering that it be extended until May 26th. Before that date, additional guidance will be released for how we can safely move forward. ”

“I do not issue this order lightly, but we must protect ourselves, our families, and the other members of our community,” Bowersox said. “A full and immediate lifting of the Safer At Home order would put all of us in danger of contracting the virus. We have to be concerned about surges in cases overwhelming our local hospitals, as well as our first responders, public health professionals, and workers employed at our community’s grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses at risk.” 

Earlier Wednesday evening, Dane County said it would continue to enforce much of the Safer at Home order in the county. Milwaukee County has not yet responded to the court’s decision. 

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Lauren Anderson is an associate editor and 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.

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