Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee’s “Safer at Home” Order Remains in Effect

Bars and restaurants in Milwaukee must remain closed.

By - May 13th, 2020 08:42 pm
Mayor Tom Barrett addresses the media alongside Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayor Tom Barrett addresses the media alongside Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik on March 11th. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

While the statewide “Safer at Home” order was voided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a similar order for the City of Milwaukee remains in effect.

The city, through Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik, issued its own order with no end date on March 25th. But it was quickly superseded by the state’s order.

With the state order gone, Milwaukee’s order is back in effect. The two are very similar, classifying similar groups of essential businesses that can operate while prohibiting others and banning public gatherings. Bars and restaurants may not open to in-person patronage.

The Republican-controlled Legislature sued over its lack of involvement in the order from Governor Tony Evers‘ administration. But the city’s legislative arm, the Milwaukee Common Council, has endorsed the order and provided the ability for the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Health Department to issue citations. The police department can also use its arrest powers to enforce the order.

“The City of Milwaukee Health Department issued a public health order on March 25, 2020 to protect public health and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Tom Barrett in a statement Wednesday evening. “That order remains in effect, including all provisions on public gatherings, restaurants, and bar operations.”

The city’s order has no end date. But Barrett and other local officials have expressed optimism that slowing the spread of the disease would allow businesses to reopen under guidelines in the near future.

Both the state and local order were issued under state statute 252 which grants powers to public health officers surrounding communicable diseases.

All 19 Milwaukee County municipalities have “safer at home” orders. The 18 suburban communities, led by their public health officers, issued their own order Wednesday night. The suburban order is less restrictive, allowing salons, spas and shopping malls to reopen, and only lasting until May 21st.

Additional counties and municipalities are expected to issue orders in the coming days.

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