MILWAUKEE — The clock is ticking for Milwaukee restaurants and bars to submit their COVID-19 safety plans for in-person dining.
So far, the health department reported 140 have been approved. Businesses that want to continue in-person dining have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to get their plans to the city's health department.
"It’s a little bit of work but it’s totally worth it once it’s done," said Steve Hawthorne, owner of Hawthorne Coffee.
The coffee shop submitted its plan back in June. Hawthorne said he had to make adjustments, but his business ended up being the first one to be officially approved by city health officials.
"I think it helps our customers to know that we’ve gone through the process and we’re doing things right, so they can feel can feel and should feel safe coming in that we’re going to keep them healthy," said Steve.
Hawthorne Coffee is one of 1,721 licensed restaurants and bars Milwaukee.
Royce Lockett at Skybox Sports Bar is still waiting to hear about his safety plan, but he is confident it will pass.
Ultimately, Lockett believes the more businesses that get this done will help the city.
"The more we all stay open the more the city survives the more businesses that go down the city starts to deteriorate," said Lockett.
Kowalik says starting Wednesday they will reach out to businesses who missed the Tuesday deadline, adding there will be a grace period for restaurants and bars to submit safety plans for in-person dining.
"We will educate and give restaurants and bars that have not submitted a plan another two weeks. We're not going to issue fines like tomorrow or the 17th. We've been really really mindful of working with our business owners on this. We know this is overwhelming," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik.
Those who do not comply with the two-week deadline will be referred to the licensing committee.
So far 140 plans have been approved out of 300.
"Some of the reasons why some of these plans have not been approved is there may be additional adjustments and consultations," Kowalik explained.
Restaurants that only want to do curbside service or carry out do not have to send a plan.