The Milwaukee Health Department unveiled a new health order for city on Thursday. Among other things, it further eases restrictions on capacity limits for bars and restaurants. Oh, and it allows people to walk around in bars and restaurants. Previous health orders required patrons to be seated.

The new order—known as Phase 6—replaces Order #4.4 and goes into effect Friday, March 19.

“The Phase 6 order reflects several COVID-19 trends including the reduced presence of the disease in Milwaukee and the lower percentage of positive COVID-19 test results,” Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said in a press release. “While we are taking a step forward, we are doing that cautiously because COVID-19 is still a dangerous threat in our city.”

Under the new order, bars and restaurants without approved COVID safety plans are allowed to operate at 50% capacity—up from 25% under the previous order. Bars and restaurants with approved COVID safety plans are still allowed to operate at full capacity.

As for the “walking around in bars and restaurants” bit, the new order reads:

Seating must be provided and encouraged for all customers however movement throughout the establishment is permitted. […] Individuals are not permitted to walk throughout an establishment without masks on while holding food and/or drink.

And hey! Dance floors are allowed again (with masks)! Other features of Phase 6 include:

• Museums can be open with capacity limits and protective measures including masking.

• Sporting events and recreational activities are now permitted to have up to six spectators per event participant with a limit of 750 fans indoors or 1,000 fans outdoors as long as physical distancing can be accommodated. An approved safety plan can allow larger crowds.

• The order no longer restricts visitors to long-term care facilities.

Phase 6 is the city’s first new health order update since February. Since then, numerous Milwaukee museums have reopened with enhanced safety features, and both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers have announced limited in-person attendance for games.

Here’s the full phase/order, and here’s the full press release:


Milwaukee Health Department Modifies COVID-19 Public Health Order
Revised Gating Criteria Also Clarify Reopening Steps

Milwaukee – Significant changes in the current public health order will go into effect Friday, March 19th, changes that relax some restriction in the previous order. The new Public Health Order Phase 6 supersedes Order #4.4 which was in place for the past six weeks.

“The Phase 6 order reflects several COVID-19 trends including the reduced presence of the disease in Milwaukee and the lower percentage of positive COVID-19 test results,” Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said. “While we are taking a step forward, we are doing that cautiously because COVID-19 is still a dangerous threat in our city.”

Some of the noteworthy changes in the new public health order include:

• Restaurants and bars will see an increase in possible capacity and an easing of the restrictions on movement of patrons inside the establishment. While seating must be available and encouraged, it is no longer required unless a patron is eating or drinking.

• Museums can be open with capacity limits and protective measures including masking.

• Sporting events and recreational activities are now permitted to have up to six spectators per event participant with a limit of 750 fans indoors or 1,000 fans outdoors as long as physical distancing can be accommodated. An approved safety plan can allow larger crowds.

• The order no longer restricts visitors to long-term care facilities.

It is important to note that general provisions regarding safe business practices and protective measures remain in place. That includes masking, social distancing, surface cleaning, and policies to restrict employees who have been exposed to the disease or show COVID-19 symptoms. The Milwaukee Health Department will continue to enforce the order, and citations with potentially large fines will be issued for order violations.

The full order is available online at city.milwaukee.gov/MMFS.

[The above picture of The Wicked Hop was taken in January 2020, a.k.a. pre-pandemic times.]

Exclusive articles, podcasts, and more. Support Milwaukee Record on Patreon.


RELATED ARTICLES

Milwaukee will receive the gift of a new health order on March 18

50 photos of the reopened-but-still-eventually-moving Milwaukee Public Museum

Brewers 2021 Opening Day: 25% capacity, no tailgating

Milwaukee Bucks will allow limited number of fans to attend games at Fiserv Forum, beginning tonight

Milwaukee museums will reopen in March with approved safety plans

New Milwaukee health order eases restrictions on indoor gatherings, allows counter service for ordering and pick up, more

Milwaukee health order limiting bars and restaurants with previously approved full-capacity safety plans to 50% capacity will expire Friday, thus allowing bars and restaurants with previously approved full-capacity safety plans to return to full capacity

About The Author

Co-Founder and Editor

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