Milwaukee restaurants return to COVID-19 mitigation strategies in hopes of keeping doors open

NOW: Milwaukee restaurants return to COVID-19 mitigation strategies in hopes of keeping doors open

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some local businesses are taking it upon themselves to ask customers to be COVID-19 safe by issuing their own mitigation measures for their establishments.

In an effort to keep the doors open and everyone healthy, some restaurants are once again requiring face masks, using plexiglass barriers and following distancing protocols. 

"Our employees are requesting it. They're concerned, obviously. A lot of our customers are also concerned," Lakefront Brewery President Russ Klisch said. 

Klisch made the difficult decision to temporarily close Lakefront Brewery over New Year's weekend after multiple employees tested positive or were exposed to COVID-19.

"Financially it's not a desirable thing to have, but the other thing is just to make sure we keep our workforce together," Klisch said.

Other Milwaukee businesses followed their lead by closing over the holiday and reopening with continued mitigation measures.

"Each business has to make those decisions based on what they feel is best for their employees and their customers," Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Tim Sheehy said.

Restaurants like Wy'east Pizza, Odd Duck, and Uncle Wolfie's Breakfast Tavern are taking the extra step by asking customers to show proof of vaccination before dining in.

"We are very supportive of that decision and are doing anything we can to assist organizations and businesses that are requiring vaccine," City of Milwaukee Health Department Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said.

Milwaukee doesn't have a mask mandate. Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson doesn't have plans to implement one.

"This is not merely a political decision," the acting mayor said. "It's one that's being done with consultation with folks who are experts on COVID-19."

The health department does have a mask advisory, and some businesses hope customers follow it.

Officials warn if everyone gets sick, there won't be anyone left to keep the lights on.

"If we want to keep this economy open...then people need to take personal responsibility," Sheehy said.

Not all places are following the same guidelines. Consumers should check with a business to see what is required of them ahead of time.

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