EDIT: The headline and photo have been changed in order to be less confusing. The current photo was taken in January 2020.

Confused about what’s open, what’s not open, how many people can be in one place, and where people can be in one place? Prepare to get more confused.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, the City of Milwaukee Health Department says the city will not be following Gov. Evers’ recently issued statewide Emergency Order #3. The order places a 25% occupancy cap on bars, restaurants, stores, and other indoor public gatherings. The order is set to go into effect Thursday at 8 a.m.

So, um, why is Milwaukee exempt? It all comes down to the “Local Orders” section of the order, which states: “Local governments may issue orders that are more restrictive than the provisions in this order.” The City of Milwaukee Health Department believes the city’s current order—dubbed “Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely”—qualifies as “more restrictive.”

“After review of both orders, the City of Milwaukee Health Department has determined that the Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely Order is more restrictive than Governor Evers’ Emergency Order #3, and that all businesses and individuals within the City of Milwaukee should continue to adhere to the Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely Order,” reads a press release.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains the city’s current order:

Under Milwaukee’s current order, issued in July, bars and restaurants had a Sept. 15 deadline to submit safety plans to the Health Department and they are required to continue to work with the Health Department until the plans receive department approval.

Capacity limits are waived if a bar or restaurant has an approved COVID-19 safety plan. Those businesses receive a certificate or seal from the Health Department that shows they can operate safely.

Once the plan is approved, the bar or restaurant will be expected to abide by restrictions in its approved plan, not the sections of the city’s order relating to those establishments. Those with plans in place can operate without the current 50% capacity limit.

So there you go. We’re sure this won’t be confusing and contentious at all. Here’s the full press release.


The City of Milwaukee Health Department will continue to enforce the Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely Order as written

MILWAUKEE – On October 6, Governor Tony Evers announced that Emergency Order #3 will go into effect October 8 – November 6 throughout the State of Wisconsin. Under this order, local municipalities are permitted to have orders that are more restrictive than the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Order.

To protect residents from COVID-19, the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Health Department created the Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely Order, which provides a phased approach at combatting the pandemic.

The Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely local order requires restaurants and bars to submit an a strenuous 80 point COVID checklist to the Health Department to operate. The checklist requires businesses to implement hygiene, cleaning, and protective measures, policies, and procedures.

The local order also requires businesses to facilitate remote work to the greatest extent possible and ensure individuals remain six feet from others whenever possible. As a result, even though the Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely Order permits a larger threshold of individuals in certain places than Emergency Order #3 allows, the additional restrictions listed under the local order do more to prevent COVID-19 transmission than Governor Evers’ Emergency Order #3.

After review of both orders, the City of Milwaukee Health Department has determined that the Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely Order is more restrictive than Governor Evers’ Emergency Order #3, and that all businesses and individuals within the City of Milwaukee should continue to adhere to the Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely Order.

About The Author

Matt Wild
Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.

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