Wisconsin Public Radio

Some Milwaukee Businesses Bring Mask Requirements Back

Public health officials recently began recommending that masks be worn indoors in public.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Aug 5th, 2021 02:23 pm
Mask. Pixabay License Free for commercial use No attribution required

Mask. (Pixabay License).

Business owners in Milwaukee say the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant is forcing them to rethink the safety measures in place at their stores. Business leaders say the rise in cases is bringing pandemic challenges back to the forefront.

Details of further changes are fluid, and in-store events could ultimately be canceled again, Gordon Lugauer, president of Board Game Barrister, said in an email.

“Welcome to Small Business Pandemic Edition where you can take your pick of which unpleasantness you wish to subject your staff to: infectious virus that has a chance of being severe, or unhappy customers that have a higher chance of being bullies,” said Lugauer. “Or, take the middle road and get both! What a bargain!”

Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said businesses hit hard by the pandemic have been making a comeback.

“They’ve started to reemerge again, but unfortunately, so has the delta variant,” said Sheehy. “That’s putting a little bit of a dampening effect on some of those businesses coming back.”

Sheehy said while challenges such as supply chain issues and job openings remain, “the economy has come roaring back.”

But Sheehy said the pandemic’s resurgence “really attacks employee confidence and consumer confidence.”

“Getting employees to return back to work is becoming a challenge again with the rise of the delta variant, and then getting people to go out again and engage in consumer behavior, where they’re in the public or they’re in a closed space, is also a bit challenging,” said Sheehy. “Hopefully … this rollercoaster doesn’t drop as low as it did at the beginning of COVID.”

Sheehy said vaccines and a year and a half of experience with the pandemic have helped matters.

“I think that you’re gonna see some caution, but I don’t see mandates coming back,” said Sheehy. “I think that genie’s out of the bottle.”

Sheehy said while many businesses are encouraging masking and some are having employees mask up, the stores requiring masks are few and far between, with employee comfort and consumer confidence primarily driving decisions on what to do.

Even so, Sheehy said more places may take advantage of technology to put vaccination requirements into place, like in San Francisco, where bars are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to sit inside.

“It’s all based around giving employers and consumers confidence that the interaction is going to be healthy,” said Sheehy.

The city of Milwaukee’s health department is back to recommending people wear a mask indoors, whether or not they’ve been vaccinated. Counties across the state area making similar recommendations.

Listen to the WPR link here.

Milwaukee Stores Putting Safety Measures On The Table With COVID Cases Rising Again was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio. 

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