Milwaukee County suburbs enter third phase of reopening

Allows 50-person gatherings, nearly full capacity at bars and restaurants

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Gatherings of up to 50 people and 75% capacity at bars and restaurants are now permitted in Milwaukee County’s 18 suburbs under the third phase of the area’s reopening plans amid COVID-19, according to a news release Thursday.

This next phase, or “Phase C,” went into effect early Friday morning, allowing retail establishments, salons, gyms and “places of public amusement” to increase capacity from 25% to 50%.

Under the “Phase B,” bars and restaurants were instructed to maintain 50% capacity. Gatherings in homes and in public spaces had been limited to 10 people since the county began reopening on May 21.

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People at mass gatherings are asked to continue to maintain physical distancing and protective measures, and businesses are instructed to adhere to Center for Disease Control and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s reopening guidelines.

The guidance is being issued by Milwaukee County’s suburban health departments, which based Thursday’s decision on key indicators– coronavirus cases, testing, care, PPE and tracing– turning to yellow or green.

As of June 12, there are 9,174 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Milwaukee County. The seven-day average of new positive cases per day has steadily declined from June 2 to June 10, according to the county’s dashboard

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It does not include the City of Milwaukee, which is following its own reopening plan. Starting last Friday, a number of restrictions were relaxed and bars and restaurants in Milwaukee were permitted to reopen for in-house service at 25% capacity under phase three of the city’s plan.

Several businesses were caught off-guard by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s announcement, which came less than 24 hours before phase three went into effect. Some took issue with the short notice, a lack of guidelines for reopening and the timing of the announcement given recent protests.

For Milwaukee County suburbs, moving to the next and phase, or “Phase D,” is based on whether certain criteria are met. According to the county’s guidance chart, limits on gatherings will be determined by the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine. In Phase D, business can open without any capacity restrictions.

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Local health departments will continue monitoring the key indicators every Monday and Thursday and will evaluate every two weeks to determine if the data shows municipalities can move to the next step in their reopening recommendations. The next evaluation date will be on Thursday, June 25.

Get more news and insight in the May 25 issue of BizTimes Milwaukee. Subscribe to get updates in your inbox here.

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