An updated health order for the City of Milwaukee that goes into effect on Friday will ease gathering limits as COVID-19 gating criteria continues to show signs of improvement.
Among the most significant changes in the revised order, Order 4.4, is a change pertaining to indoor gatherings, which will be able to include up to 250 people if masks are worn, attendees stay seated and there is sufficient space for distancing. New provisions permit even larger numbers of attendees if an approved safety plan is in place.
Under the new order, gathering size limits will now be set at the lesser of 25% of the total occupancy of the location; one person for every 30 square feet of floor space that is open to the public; or 250 people (compared with 10 people inside and 25 people outside under the most recent order, Order 4.2), in addition to any employees or contractors required to operate the gathering.
The new order also revises the provisions related to recreational and athletic activities as COVID-19 testing will no longer be required for team and contact sports. In addition, two observers, or fans, will be permitted for each participant in recreational activities, and, with an approved safety plan, organizations can host additional attendees.
The Milwaukee Health Department anticipates the new order will remain in place for at least the next month.
“Changes in our public health orders are based on a careful review of disease trends and authoritative information from the scientific community. The modifications we are making this week allow for additional reopening while maintaining public safety,” Acting Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson said.
Under the new order and with approved safety plans, it will be possible for a limited reopening of museums and public exhibition spaces. The order also allows bars and restaurants to establish counter service for ordering and pick up.
The provisions covering weddings, funerals and religious entities are modified to match the gathering requirements for entertainment venues. Although seating is required for all attendees, standing is allowed at traditional portions of a service.
“We are cautiously optimistic that Milwaukee will see continued improvement in our gating criteria,” Jackson said. “Even so, the pandemic continues to take its toll here and we cannot let our guard down.”
Over the course of the pandemic, the city has registered 559 deaths from COVID-19 and 61,342 positive cases as of Thursday.
On Wednesday, a COVD-19 vaccination registration link was launched on the city’s website. Eligible Milwaukee residents and employees can go to the link at milwaukee.gov/covidvax to sign up to receive the vaccination.
“This is the vaccination site for eligible residents of the city of Milwaukee,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “What we are talking about are people over 65, health care providers, people who are involved in law enforcement and first responders. If you are an eligible resident of the city of Milwaukee, we encourage you to register to be vaccinated.”
The website maintains an updated list of which individuals and groups are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Appointments are based on availability and vaccine supply.
“This is going to be a challenge as we move forward because we all know there is a limited number of vaccinations that we are receiving,” Barrett said.
Milwaukee residents who are eligible to receive the vaccine but don’t have Internet access are encouraged to call the Milwaukee Health Department at 414-286-8600 to schedule an appointment.
Barrett stressed that the website link and phone number should only be used by Milwaukee residents and those employed by the city.
“For the surrounding suburban areas, I would highly recommend that you contact your health department to see how you would get vaccinated,” Barrett said.