Jeramey Jannene

Suburban “Safer at Home Orders” Are Less Restrictive Than Milwaukee’s

Wisconsin becomes patchwork quilt of health orders.

By - May 14th, 2020 10:37 am
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The Oriental Theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Dave Reid.

The Oriental Theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Dave Reid.

UPDATE: The City of Milwaukee has issued a new order that more closely matches the Milwaukee County order.

Following the Wisconsin Supreme Court‘s ruling to immediately void the statewide “Safer at Home” order, counties and municipalities across the state scrambled to react Wednesday evening.

Governor Tony Evers said Wisconsin became “the Wild West” as a result.

The City of Milwaukee fell back on its original order from late March, issued before the state’s order. The state and city orders, developed in tandem, are very similar. Bars and restaurants remain closed, essential businesses are allowed to operate.

Deputy city attorney Adam Stephens said Thursday morning the city would continue to refine its order to make sure it stays within the ruling issued by the court. He said the city attorney’s office has been working on a revised order in recent weeks with the Milwaukee Health Department and Mayor Tom Barrett‘s office.

The 18 suburban Milwaukee County communities issued a new order late Wednesday and it is substantially different than the state and city orders. Salons and spas, including barbershops and nail salons, are allowed to open with only one individual per service provider at a time. Staff and customers are required to wear masks, and COVID-19 symptom screening must take place before service is provided.

Retail stores, including shopping malls, are allowed to reopen at 25 percent of capacity or four individuals per 1,000 square feet. The suburban communities are home to the area’s major malls including Mayfair Mall, Southridge Mall and Bayshore Town Center.

Most notably, the Milwaukee County order has an expiration date of 11:59 p.m. on May 21st. The city order has no end date.

The suburban order governs Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Fox Point, Franklin, Glendale, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Oak Creek, River Hills, South Milwaukee, Shorewood, St. Francis, Wauwatosa, West Allis, West Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay. Individual municipalities may submit a more restrictive order under the joint county order. Bars and restaurants remain closed to in-person patronage under the order.

Waukesha County County Executive Paul Farrow announced that his county would not be issuing such an order, allowing all businesses to reopen immediately. He encouraged businesses to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation guidance on best practices for safety.

Ozaukee and Washington counties also do not have an order. The owner of the Iron Hog Saloon in Port Washington opened his tavern at 3:00 p.m., before the court had ruled, and a large crowd gathered. Other bars across the state also opened with the support of the Tavern League of Wisconsin, including one in Platteville that drew national attention.

The City of Racine issued an order mirroring the state one, but the county does not have an order.

Elsewhere in Wisconsin other orders are being issued. Brown County, the site of the largest per-capita outbreak in the state, issued its own order, but not before a few bars reopened. Rock and Dane counties, also sites of some of the state’s biggest outbreaks, issued their own orders.

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