Jeramey Jannene

Bars, Restaurants Ordered to Close

Milwaukee and 10 suburbs order no in-house service. Carryouts and delivery only.

By - Mar 17th, 2020 07:54 am
Good City Brewing's downtown location. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Good City Brewing’s downtown location prior to opening. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Eleven Milwaukee County municipalities, including the City of Milwaukee, issued an emergency order late Monday night closing bars and restaurants to in-house patrons until further notice.

Restaurants with carryout and delivery options can continue to operate those services. Bars and restaurants previously approved to sell carryout alcohol may continue to do so.

Grocery stores and other retail establishments can continue to operate under the order. The order does not apply to food service in health care facilities, weddings or funerals.

In addition to Milwaukee, leaders of South Milwaukee, St. Francis, Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Fox Point, Glendale, River Hills, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay issued the emergency order.

The move comes after an emergency meeting of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council, a board of the 19 municipal executives and county executive, was held via phone Monday evening with the leaders of Milwaukee County.

“Clear and bold actions are needed immediately to stop the spread of COVID-19 and strengthen public health in Milwaukee County, and that means closing our bars and restaurants for now,” said the communities in a joint release. “This will be extremely difficult on the family-owned bars, local restaurants and small businesses that make Milwaukee County the best place to call home. We are in unprecedented times, and that calls for unprecedented actions. We want to thank the bars, restaurants, businesses and all our residents for understanding this is a necessary measure to safeguard the health of our community. We are all in this together.”

The group deliberately issued the order ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. Onsite consumption of food and beverage is not be permitted.

The move comes as a growing list of restaurants had voluntarily suspended dine-in services to protect their employees and the community. The State of Wisconsin and Governor Tony Evers declined to suspend dine-in operations Monday, instead restricting capacity to 50 people or 50 percent of fire code capacity, whichever is smaller. That action is superseded by the local order.

Milwaukee County has 13 positive tests for COVID-19, nine of which are in the city. Approximately 180 cases were under investigation as of late Monday evening and community transmission is occurring.

“Stay home. Be isolated. That’s what the message is,” said Mayor Tom Barrett at a Monday evening press conference outside of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

“This is by far, far and away, the single biggest challenge this community and arguably the state has faced in probably half a century,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Milwaukee County has established an Emergency Operations Center led by Abele’s chief of staff Raisa Koltun. The entity is intended to coordinate responses from the county and municipalities

The eight communities that did not issue a ban, at least yet, are Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Oak Creek, Wauwatosa, West Allis and West Milwaukee.

The joint order was formally signed by Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik, North Shore Public Health Officer Ann Christiansen, South Milwaukee/St. Francis Public Health Officer Jacqueline Ove and Cudahy Public Health Officer Katie Lepak. Under state law, the public health officer, not the mayor, is the individual empowered to issue closures and compel quarantine.

Milwaukee Public Schools operates 20 sites providing free breakfast and lunch for children between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Want to get delivery or carryout? Urban Milwaukee is actively maintaining an ever-growing list of establishments offering the service.

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