'Good day in Milwaukee': City lifts mask mandate, but some businesses will still require them
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee is no longer under a mask mandate and COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, as of Tuesday, June 1. The city's health order officially expired at midnight.
Masks will still be required in certain locations. Businesses, employers and other public spaces are allowed to continue mandating masks.
Mayor Tom Barrett said Tuesday marks a new era in the city's recovery from the pandemic.
"It's a good day in Milwaukee. The sun is shining, a lot of the restrictions have been lifted, but we still have work to do," Barrett said.
Kirsten Johnson, commissioner of health for the Milwaukee Health Department, cited stats showing 49.5 percent of Milwaukee adults have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 42.5 percent of Milwaukee adults are fully vaccinated.
"I am confident lifting these restrictions today because of the work our community has done to reduce the number of positive COVID-19 cases over the past 15 months," Johnson said.
City leaders asked Milwaukee residents to keep a mask handy.
"There are three things you want to carry with you: your car keys, your wallet and a mask," said Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
Ahead of the restrictions lifting Tuesday, Kip Spiering rearranged his space to allow for more room for social distancing. He owns Barney's Brother Salon, which is inside of the US Bank building downtown.
"We decided today's the day, June 1st, that we would stop wearing masks," Spiering said.
Fully vaccinated clients don't have to wear a mask, but Spiering is asking unvaccinated clients to still continue masking up. He said his entire staff has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We're all fully vaccinated, so if you would prefer and feel more comfortable if we wear the mask, we will gladly put our mask back on for you during your service," he said.
At the gift shop and clothing store Swoon on Vliet Street, owner Kira Wendel is asking customers to continue wearing masks regardless of vaccination status.
"I'm just not equipped or prepared to try to card people at the door and police who is and isn't vaccinated," she said.
Wendel said she would feel more comfortable if the percentage of people vaccinated in Milwaukee was closer to 70 or 80 percent. She's keeping her mask policy in place for her safety as well as that of her employees.
"I, myself, have struggled with health issues for the past 13 years. I have an employee who also has health issues. Both of us, due to our health issues, have been advised by our doctors not to get vaccinated because it could complicate those issues. So we're at risk, and we can't get vaccinated," Wendel said.
Johnson is asking anyone who is not vaccinated or has not received their second dose of a two-dose series to continue wearing a mask. She said she is prepared to reinstate the city's public health order if there is a period of sustained increases in COVID-19 cases, test positivity and hospitalizations.
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