Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Anticipates New COVID-19 Restrictions Next Week

City "anticipates" moving from Phase Six to Phase Five of its health order.

By - Apr 9th, 2021 04:12 pm

3D medical illustration of 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by [CC BY-SA (]

3D medical illustration of 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by [CC BY-SA (]

The Milwaukee Health Department is expected to move the city’s COVID-19 health order backward to phase five, lowering capacity limits.

That’s according to a weekly evaluation of the city’s COVID-19 gating criteria released by the department. The change would be implemented next week.

The change would reduce capacity limits at businesses and organizations without approved safety plans. Establishments with approved safety plans will not be “substantially affected,” according to the department.

“It seems counterintuitive. At a time when vaccinations are available and everyone is aware of safe practices, we should see COVID-19 infection rates declining. That is not the case,” said Commissioner Kirsten Johnson in a statement. “The presence of newer, easily transmitted COVID variants is one likely culprit; another factor is COVID-fatigue. With the finish line in sight, we all need to take every reasonable precaution to limit the spread of the virus.”

Since releasing a revised health order (phase six) and new gating criteria on March 18th, the city has seen its performance deteriorate.

The positive test rate has climbed from 2.4% to 5%, going from “low transmission” to “moderate transmission” on the city’s color-coded benchmarks. The weekly rate of new COVID-19 cases has also climbed from 45.8 cases per 100,000 residents to 95.6, going from “moderate transmission” to “substantial transmission.” Above substantial transmission, the gating criteria framework includes “high” and “extreme” transmission.

The city is currently in phase six, but would move backward to a newly-created phase five. On March 18th, Johnson moved the city from phase 4.4 to six and released the new gating criteria with objective criteria on when a move to the intermediary phase five would be warranted.

Under the current order, bars and restaurants without approved safety plans can operate at 50% capacity, and the requirement that all patrons be seated was lifted.

Religious establishments and event venues can have gatherings at 75% capacity or one person per 30 square feet, whichever is lower. Museums can operate at 100% capacity.

Hotels, youth programs and childcare providers can operate at 100% capacity. Salons and spas can have three clients per service provider and retailers can operate at any capacity that still allows for social distancing. Gyms can operate at 75% capacity, one person per 30 square feet or a maximum capacity of 750 people, whichever is lower.

But all of those limits could be cut if the city reverts to “phase five.” The department could also issue a modified version of the phase six order.

The third gating criteria, the percentage of people that have successfully completed a full vaccination dose course, climbed from 8.5% to 16.3%.

Read the Moving Milwaukee Forward Phase 6 order or the gating criteria on Urban Milwaukee.

Performance Review

Milwaukee COVID-19 Health Performance Review. Image from MHD.

Milwaukee COVID-19 Health Performance Review. Image from MHD.

Gating Criteria

Milwaukee Health Department COVID-19 Gating Criteria. Image from MHD

Milwaukee Health Department COVID-19 Gating Criteria. Image from MHD

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

Categories: Health, Weekly

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