Face masks, expanded outdoor seating and new HVAC filters that clean the air every three to five minutes are all part of what the Milwaukee Public Market calls its responsible reopening plan for bringing customers back inside, starting Wednesday, June 10.
The Historic Third Ward attraction will reopen to the public after closing in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Vendors got the OK to launch curbside pick-up and delivery service in early May, but the market’s decision to welcome patrons back inside the building amid an ongoing pandemic required more time and planning.
“It’s our responsibility to consider the long term health and well-being of our employees and patrons as we plan to turn the dial of reopening the market,” said Paul Schwatz, executive director of Milwaukee Public Market. “It was important for us to implement a reopening strategy when we felt our safety protocols could align with local guidelines in a way that provides the type of experience people have grown to appreciate at the market.”
During the first phase of reopening, customers can enter the building to order food and shop, but the market’s second floor seating area will remain closed. Outdoor seating has been expanded around the perimeter of the market to encourage diners to sit outside.
Indoor dining will be offered at select vendor spaces, with reduced capacity, six-foot distancing and, in some cases, physical barriers between chairs and tables.
Designated staff will be responsible for regularly sanitizing seating areas and additional cleaning measures throughout the building. Eight additional touch-free hand sanitizing stations are being added to the market’s first level.
Face masks will be required for employees and strongly encouraged for customers. Employees are also subject to temperature and health screenings at the beginning of each shift.
The market’s new health and safety protocols are based on guidance from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Milwaukee Health Department, but vendors are free to implement additional safety precautions, such as touch-free payment processes and modified food safety steps. Some vendors plan to continue offering curbside pickup.
“It has always been our goal to provide the best experience to our patrons,” said Schwartz. “That experience includes purchasing quality products, served by healthy and friendly employees in a clean and safe environment. Ensuring we can abide by those principles has never been more important to us.”
Starting Wednesday, the market’s general hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.