Mayor Tom Barrett announced on Thursday that all City of Milwaukee bars and restaurants can reopen for indoor and outdoor business beginning Friday, June 5, at 2 p.m. Indoor capacity will be limited to 25 percent.
The news was revealed during a twice-weekly online press briefing on the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are counting on business owners to make smart decisions,” Barrett said. He and other speakers noted that COVID-19 was still a real threat, and that social distancing and masks remained important.
The decision was made after the city met several key indicators needed to advance to Phase 3 in the Health Department’s “Moving Milwaukee Forward” plan.
Mayor Barrett also said business capacity would be allowed to increase to 50 percent, with an absolute maximum capacity of 250. Child care capacity will also be increased to 50 percent.
Public and private gatherings will be allowed at 25 percent capacity, again with an absolute max of 250 people.
Businesses can be open at 50% capacity of occupancy, with a maximum of 250 people.
Childcare centers can operate at 50% capacity.
Public and private events are allowed at 25% capacity with a maximum of 250 people.
Bars and restaurants can open for indoor service at 25% capacity.
Indoor dining will be allowed at 25% capacity.
Outdoor dining will be allowed with precautions and social distancing.
Salons and barbershops will continue to operate with the current restrictions at 25% capacity.
The news is a 180-degree turn from last week, when Barrett and Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said the city was not ready to allow dine-in service.
The City of Milwaukee has been alone in the area for restricting dine-in service. Suburban Milwaukee County establishments have been free to reopen since May 22. Statewide, businesses have been free to reopen since the Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer At Home” order on May 13.
A petition making its rounds through social media on Thursday claimed a group of unnamed bars and restaurants would briefly reopen next week Monday, with or without city support. So, uh, looks like you’ve got that city support.