Some nonessential businesses ready to reopen, others say they won't even if it's allowed

Posted at 6:49 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 19:49:43-04

MILWAUKEE — Some businesses deemed nonessential are eager to reopen while others say they won't fully resume operations even if the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns the Safer at Home order extension.

The drive-thru was busy for fish fry Wednesday at The Packing House on Milwaukee's south side, but the dining room and bar have been empty for more than a month. That's how General Manager Chris Wiken intends to keep it.

"We're still seeing new cases," Wiken said. "I think we really need to eradicate this virus as quickly as possible so we can get back to that."

Wiken said he sadly had to lay off 90-percent of his employees, but he believes public health is more important than making money during this coronavirus pandemic.

"Believe me, we miss being open," he said. "We miss having our dining rooms full and our bar full, but now is not the time to even be considering that."

The state legislature is suing Wisconsin's Department of Health Services, alleging it abused its authority by forcing nonessential businesses to close. UW-Milwaukee political professor Mordecai Lee believes the legislature will prevail.

"Absolutely and look at the timing," Lee said. "The timing is while the incumbent who lost is still on, and he'll, of course, participate."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told WTMJ Radio Wednesday morning that if republicans win, reopening businesses will still come with a phased approach.

"Winning the lawsuit means we win the ability to negotiate and try to put together a plan that everyone can support as opposed to the process {Governor Evers} is using now," Vos said.

The owner of a Hartland Snap Fitness had plans to reopen his gym on Saturday and defy the Safer at Home order. Erik Mullet said those plans fell apart Wednesday after meeting with Hartland police.

"There is a responsible way of doing this," Mullet said. "I'm not saying we should just flip a light switch on."

Mullet said he's now anxiously awaiting the state Supreme Court ruling on the fate of the order's extension.

"I hope that this gets rolled back, and we get Wisconsin back to work and our businesses back open," he said.

Hartland Police Chief Torin Misko told TMJ4 News that this is a perfect example of law enforcement taking an educational approach with the Safer at Home order.

Misko said if nonessential businesses choose to reopen after the police have warned them, he will refer a misdemeanor charge as the order allows.

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