CITY OF RACINE — The Mayor of Racine issued an executive order ending the city's mask ordinance as of noon Friday May 14.
Mayor Corey Mason will ask the Common Council to fully repeal the ordinance at their meeting this Tuesday.
"This does not mean the pandemic is over. If you are not vaccinated, COVID-19 is still a very serious threat to your health, and you should continue to wear masks and follow other best practices. The CDC only issued this new guidance because of the large numbers of people getting vaccinated," Mason said in a news release. “The City of Racine has always said we will follow the best public health guidance from the CDC and other experts as we work to mitigate COVID-19 locally.”
According to the Racine Health Department, more than 44% of city residents ages 16 and up have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 37% of Racine residents are fully vaccinated.
"The CDC announcement is meant to encourage those that have not been vaccinated to do so at one of the multiple vaccination sites within communities. In order for this community to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and its transmission, it is imperative for those not vaccinated to continue to wear a facial mask and get vaccinated," Racine Public Health Administrator Dottie Kay Bowersox said in a news release.
Bowersbox asked Mason for the emergency order to suspend the mask mandate citywide. But local businesses, institutions and private residences can still choose to require masks.
There are already strong opinions on both sides.
“I burned my mask as soon as I found out,” said Nikki Woods. “I’m so excited. I got the text on my phone and was relieved we can finally throw the masks away. You have to be able to live your life free. This is America. Yet there are still people who are judging, if you walk around without a mask on.”
“There’s still a lot of gray area with COVID,” said another Racine resident. “I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’m still going to be mindful of distances and mask-wearing in indoor spaces. I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet. That’s just my personal opinion.”
The trick now for business owners is to find a balance or happy medium between all these opinions, and try to make all customers feel comfortable.
“You can never make everybody happy,” said Corey Oakland, the owner and manager of Red Onion Cafe. “To be honest, it’s been hard to follow these sudden changes in mask requirements locally and nationally over the past few days, as we’re trying to keep up with business picking back up. The majority of the people that come in here, have said they are very comfortable without masks. But I also know there are some customers who are very cautious and concerned. I also have to take into account how all our workers and employees feel, and what they’re most comfortable with going forward.”
The manager of Marci’s on Main believes ending the mask mandate takes some of the pressure off of bar owners, who’ve already had a really tough year.
“This makes it more of a personal decision,” said Austin Krieger. “ If someone feels more comfortable wearing a mask, it’s not like we would ever tell them to take it off. But, hopefully, this will give people more of a cause to come out and have fun now that they’re not required to follow certain rules.”
To read the full declaration, click here.