Racine city officials announced tighter restrictions Monday to slow the spread of COVID-19, including capacity limits on businesses.
The order, which is set to go into effect Friday, limits the capacity of bars, restaurants and fitness centers to 25%. It limits retail businesses, places of worship and other gatherings to 50% while still requiring social distancing.
The new restrictions, set by Dottie-Kay Bowersox, public health administrator for the City of Racine, are revisions to the Safer Racine ordinance passed by the Common Council in June.
Bowersox said the changes are necessary as the pandemic worsens. Since Labor Day, the City of Racine has identified more than 3,400 COVID cases, including 22 deaths, she said.
"I understand that we are all ready for COVID-19 to be gone," Bowersox said in a news release. "However, we will continue to have to make these tough decisions to slow the spread of COVID-19 until everyone in this community takes personal responsibility for slowing the spread of this virus."
Milwaukee officials have taken a different approach, allowing businesses to operate up to full capacity if they have safety plans approved by health officials, which must include 6-foot distances between groups of patrons.
Bowersox said she is concerned to see the virus spreading at "rates that we have never seen before" and she expects there will be a sharp increase with the upcoming holidays, with many outbreaks already linked to private gatherings of family and friends.
"The community must realize that inconveniences now, like wearing a mask properly and not participating in family gatherings outside of your immediate household, are necessary to protect public health and save lives long-term,” Bowersox said in the news release.
Rory Linnane reports on public health and works to make information accessible so readers can improve their lives and hold officials accountable. Contact Rory at (414) 801-1525 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @RoryLinnane.