Milwaukee businesses ask customers not to get upset with staff for mandating masks

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee business owners are asking for patience from customers as they comply with the citywide face mask mandate.

The MKE Cares ordinance went into effect Thursday, July 16, and requires anyone 3 years or older to mask up inside public buildings and outside within 6 feet of people not in their family or household.

Under the ordinance, customers have to wear masks when they walk into businesses and sit down but not while eating or drinking.

When customers walk in to Brewtown Eatery on the city's southwest side, they can buy a mask for a dollar if they don't have one. But if they refuse to wear one, owner Jill Gulczynski said they have to leave.

"There will probably be someone at the door at all times stopping anyone from coming in without a mask, which is going to be hard as well. But like I said, there's nothing we can do about it. It's a mandate on the city of Milwaukee," Gulczynski said.

Prior to the ordinance going into effect, she said she mandated that her staff wear masks but some customers were against that. She's now facing a potential loss of regular customers as a result of the citywide mandate.

"We've heard a lot of people Tuesday and Wednesday saying they won't be back until this is all over with, which is understandable. So there's not much we can do about it," Gulczynski said.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association told CBS 58 in a statement that it encourages restaurants to hyper-communicate with customers what's expected of them on their websites, at the time of reservation and when they walk in the door (both verbally and through signs).

The association said if customers have questions about what their experience will be like at an establishment, they should visit the restaurant's website or call ahead of time.

Steve Baas, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said he believes the citywide mandate will help normalize wearing masks.

"It does make it a little bit more routine, and it becomes just part of doing business," Baas said.

Under the ordinance, businesses could face fines or have their licenses revoked if everyone inside isn't wearing a mask

"The city has crafted this ordinance reasonably I think in a way that they're not looking to bust people. They're looking to kind of enshrine best practices," Baas said.

Gulczynski said it may also be difficult to get customers to comply because her business is so close to Greenfield where masks aren't required. A Milwaukee alderman raised a similar concern before the ordinance was approved by the Milwaukee Common Council.

For now, Gulczynski asks her customers for patience hoping that her staff can stay healthy and virus free.

"If one them gets it, we're going to shut down for weeks, and we can't afford to do that," she said.

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