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Milwaukee officials seek compliance as restaurants, bars allow in-person guests

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 20:31:11-04

MILWAUKEE — The City of Milwaukee is looking for voluntary compliance as more restaurants and bars resume indoor service.

The city hosted several webinars Tuesday for bars and restaurants regarding the transition into the next phase of reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the safety measures required by officials include limiting occupancy to 25 percent, posting the total occupancy to inform staff and customers, promoting good hand hygiene as well as covering coughs and sneezes.

Health experts say that discouraging physical contact such as handshakes and hugs, prohibiting self-service, keeping takeout and curbside customers outside, and regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces will also be important.

"It’s been a little challenging but we’re making it work," said Shalesha Bergeron, Manager at Skybox Sports Bar.

Hours before opening Tuesday, Shalesha showed us how they configured their space to comply with restrictions for indoor service. Since everyone has to have a seat and the bar is limiting their tables sometimes customers have to wait outside until there's space.

"We have to keep everyone safe. We’re not trying to be rude or not trying to be difficult we have to follow the rules," said Shalesha.

"Each month brought us different challenges but we made it we’re here," said Jason Alston, Owner of Heaven's Table Catering and BBQ.

Jason's restaurant is part of the Crossroads Collective food hall. Plexiglass was added to serve as a barrier between workers and customers and Jason's counter seats were removed.

The food hall expanded its patio while it gets ready to open limited indoor dining.

During the webinar, health leaders encouraged businesses to continue cleaning high touch surfaces with customers watching to show protective measures are being taken.

"I want them to know that we’re trying our best to make sure their experience is safe and still enjoyable," Jason said.

Back at Skybox, Shalesha hopes the city will soon allow them to add outdoor seating to their sidewalk under the new Active Streets for Business Program, which still needs Common Council approval. The proposal recently passed the city's Public Works Committee unanimously.

"With us having 25 capacity that’s a very low number compared to what we're used to so anything helps," said Shalesha.

City officials say while inspectors will continue with their regular jobs they will be on the lookout for violations related to the COVID orders. If there is a violation an inspector will turn to an educational approach first. However, repeat violators could face a citation or arrest.

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