Milwaukee mayor, aldermen working on citywide face mask policy

NOW: Milwaukee mayor, aldermen working on citywide face mask policy

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Tuesday, June 30, he is growing increasingly concerned about people choosing not to wear masks as the city loosens restrictions regarding COVID-19.

"When I go past Bradford Beach and see hundreds of people there, or when I go in the grocery store and people aren’t wearing them, or if I see people in bars not wearing them, that concerns me very, very much.”

Barrett said bars and restaurants, where it can be harder to maintain a six foot distance, are of particular concern.

More than 70 businesses sent city leaders a letter to Barrett and Common Council President Cavalier Johnson Monday, stating a city-wide mask policy would allow customers to be safe, and prevent another crippling shut down.

"Our revenue has gone down by 80 percent," said Greg Leon, head chef at Amilinda, which signed the letter. "So if we revamp, open up, bring our staff back, and then there’s another outbreak, and we’re forced to close, not a lot of restaurants are going to be able to survive that.”

A federal judge temporarily shut down Racine’s stay at home order earlier in June, but Barrett says he is confident Milwaukee can craft a mask policy that will stand up in court.

“That’s why we’re working with the City Attorney’s Office," Barrett said. "We know that there have been legal challenges, and I think that there are different ways that you can do this.”

Starting Wednesday, Milwaukee begins phase four of its reopening plan, which will allow bars and restaurants to operate at 50 percent of their capacity.

Barrett said previous actions helped reach benchmarks to make that phase of reopening possible, but he is concerned about a surge in cases both at the state level, and nationwide.

“I'm looking at what’s happening in California and Arizona and Texas and Florida, and I don’t want that to happen here.”

Barrett said there will be an announcement coming on potential mask policy in the next several days.

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