KENOSHA COUNTY, WI — Kenosha County businesses are beginning to re-open, hours after the county withdrew its local Safer at Home order.
The news was was a bit of relief for a number of business owners who struggled during the lockdown period.
"We're hopeful, but we're really scared," said Cindy Nicoletti, owner of Cabana Tan, Bath and Body.
Nicoletti was close to closing and liquidating her business of nearly 20 years. She is now pushing forward, thanks to support from friends, the lifted order and a GoFundMe.
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“When we closed, we were at the height of the season that we rely on to make the most money throughout the year," she said.
Brat Stop, which sits along Highway 50 and I-94 in Kenosha County opened its bar Friday at 2pm.
“Today, I’ve answered about 30 calls from people from Illinois, asking if we’ve been open and if we are opening," said Alby Glembocki, a manager whose family owns the restaurant.
Glembocki said their bar will remain open with social distancing measures in place.
“We’d love for you to come out, but it’s a personal choice at this point," Glembocki said.
Prior to Safer at Home restrictions, Kenosha County had, and currently has, the fourth most COVID-19 cases in the state.
The county also announced a kickstart plan it is currently working on to help businesses safely re-open, citing social distancing and best practices. It anticipates a finished plan by May 26, which would have been the date set for Safer at Home to end.
"With the Safer at Home Order now suspended statewide and locally, the recommendations are not mandatory. However, local officials strongly encourage businesses and organizations to follow them," the press release reads.
"In response to differing and updated legal guidance, Kenosha County is immediately withdrawing its local action that continued the provisions of the state’s Safer-at-Home Order," a news release from the department said.
The move means that businesses in Kenosha County can reopen immediately without risk of prosecution, although Health Officer Dr. Jen Feiheit says consumers should continue following public health guidelines outline in the state's now-overturned Safer-at-Home order.
“The Supreme Court’s order caused a great deal of confusion and uncertainty last night that left us and others across the state struggling to determine how to abide by the ruling while continuing to protect the public’s safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kenosha County Corporation Counsel Joseph Cardamone said in the news release. “Tonight, with varying guidance from the Wisconsin Counties Association and more time to review best practices moving forward, together we’ve determined that we will withdraw our order and instead view Safer-at Home as a series of best practices, rather than requirements.”
Kenosha County had initially released the new order early Thursday morning in the aftermath of the state Supreme Court's 4-3 decision to strike down Gov. Tony Evers' Safer at Home order. The withdrawal leaves Milwaukee County and the City of Racine as the only southeast Wisconsin locations still following 'Safer-at-Home' policies or similar.