Graham Kilmer

Milwaukee Ends Its Mask Mandate

City mask mandate and capacity restrictions discontinued as public health order allowed to expire.

By - Jun 1st, 2021 02:38 pm
Customers and employees wearing masks at Allie Boy's Bagels. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Customers and employees wearing masks at Allie Boy’s Bagels. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The COVID-19 public health order instituted by the City of Milwaukee in the early days of the pandemic has been allowed to expire, some 14 months after it was first established.

This means the citywide mask mandate is no longer in effect. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of masks in Milwaukee.

Mayor Tom Barrett and Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson announced two weeks ago that the city would be allowing the Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely order to expire following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that vaccinated people can resume pre-pandemic activities without wearing a mask.

But this doesn’t mean some businesses won’t still be enforcing masking. Now that the city restriction has elapsed, it will be up to each individual business to decide what their masking policy will be. During media briefings, Barrett has said that he wants Milwaukeeans to show respect for other people and businesses when it comes to masking.

“If a store says its patrons should wear a mask, we all need to respect that,” he said. “This is about respect, it’s pretty basic stuff.”

Both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County will continue to require masking in city- and county-owned buildings. So visitors to City Hall and the Courthouse will still be required to wear a mask.

The announcement that the order would be no more came just a week after the city announced it would be sunsetting some of the provisions on June 15th. But just hours after that announcement the CDC released their new guidelines for vaccinated people.

The major development pushing the relaxing of public health restrictions, city and public health officials have said, is the success of COVID-19 vaccines.

Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County, said this after Barrett announced the end data of the mask mandate: “The fact of the matter is that the science behind the guidelines change is solid.” The data coming back from the real world administration of hundreds of millions of doses continues to prove the nearly 100% effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing hospitalization and death, and the low-likelihood of vaccinated people transmitting the disease even if they become infected.

On Friday, May 28th, the city released the final update for its health order, stating that the data tracking disease in the city and the number of cases per 100,000 people showed Milwaukee was experiencing moderate transmission by the city’s gating criteria. The positivity rate, or the percentage of tests that come back positive for COVID-19, was considered at “low transmission” by the city’s criteria.

The percentage of city residents 16 years or older who have received at least one dose of vaccine is approximately 49%. Currently, everyone 12 years or older is eligible for vaccination. But only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for children 12 to 17 years old.

Last week also marked the end of the two mass vaccination clinics in Milwaukee. One of them was at the Wisconsin Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave., and run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in partnership with the city. The other was a county-run facility at  Kosciuszko Community Center, 2201 S. 7th St.

The city and the county are shifting their resources to a decentralized system of pop-up neighborhood clinics and mobile vaccination teams.

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Categories: Health

One thought on “Milwaukee Ends Its Mask Mandate”

  1. ringo muldano says:

    Bad decision.

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