MILWAUKEE — Officials announced the city of Milwaukee will move to phase four of its COVID-19 reopening plan on July 1.
Part of the plan means bars and restaurants can operate at 50 percent capacity. Currently, the limit is 25 percent under phase three.
Shaker's Cigar Bar owner Bob Weiss says he's ready to take steps forward and still continue to keep staff and customers safe.
"We want people to be comfortable and safe here first, and that’s more important to us than being 100 percent as fast as we can," Weiss said.
Local health officials say the city has met criteria in the number of cases, testing, tracing, hospital capacity, and PPE to move to the next phase.
Dr. Ben Weston, the medical director of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, says numbers here have so far stayed flat--but that could change. He says more close contact will lead to more cases of COVID-19. He says staying closed forever is not an option, and moving forward gradually is important.
"I know that on the city side as well as the suburb side they are watching the indicators and they are watching these trends closely, trying to make sure they are not opening up too early," Dr. Weston said.
That's partly why DanDan owner Daniel Jacobs wants masks to be required as the city reopens.
"I really like wearing a mask, it just shows that you care for and respect the people around you," Jacobs said.
Jacobs helps run the Milwaukee Independent Restaurant Coalition. He says it's made up of about 100 restaurants. The coalition wrote a letter to city leaders asking that masks be required in all public places--except when you are at your table at a bar or restaurant.
"So that people can enjoy their time with their families and friends in their little bubble, circle, that they want to," Jacobs said. "But what it does is it protects other customers and really protects the businesses."
Right now Jacobs says he isn't allowing inside dining--only outdoor patio. He says he doesn't believe he will change that soon because he doesn't feel it's safe right now.