Evers 'concerned' by Milwaukee's decision not to enforce 25% capacity mandate for restaurants, bars

NOW: Evers ’concerned’ by Milwaukee’s decision not to enforce 25% capacity mandate for restaurants, bars

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MILWAUKEE, Wis (CBS 58) -- Beginning on Thursday, Oct. 8, stores, restaurants and bars around Wisconsin have to cap their capacity at 25 percent, as part of a directive from Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to the state's Department of Health Services.

However, the Milwaukee Health Department announced on Wednesday night it will continue to enforce its own “Moving Milwaukee Forward Safety Order” instead of the state's. That decision is now drawing criticism from Evers.

Omar Shaikh, co-owner of Carnevor, said he was glad to hear the news from the city after such a tough year for the restaurant industry.

"I just don't see many making it through. Times are tough enough as is. Many of us are just hanging on by a thread at 50 percent," Shaikh said.

Milwaukee’s plan requires restaurants and bars to submit a "strenuous 80-point checklist" to operate. As of Friday, Oct. 2, only 318 safety plans had been approved of the 850 submitted to the city. Businesses with approved plans have had their capacity limits waived.

During a city-county briefing Thursday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said only businesses with approved plans can continue to operate without a capacity limit, and the rest are expected to comply with the state’s 25 percent order.

"We spent a lot of time, probably months putting together (our) plan. It's a 58-page document that we got approved by the health department, and we really believe that this is an incredible plan to keep people safe," Shaikh said.

The health department said the checklist requires businesses to implement hygiene, cleaning and protective measures. Businesses must also ensure people stay six feet apart whenever possible.

"In doing that, we feel that that actually creates a safer environment," Barrett said.

Evers said in a statement Thursday, "I am concerned about Mayor Barrett’s announcement last night and how it could affect Milwaukee and our state’s healthcare systems, especially given the rising number of hospitalizations we’re seeing. We are going to continue supporting our businesses, but at the end of the day we need everyone to do their part to help keep people safe, flatten the curve, and prevent the spread of COVID-19."

The state's plan went into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday and goes until Nov. 6. Evers said local governments are allowed to have more restrictive orders than the state's order.

Barrett said he's had conversations with the governor's staff and will continue to do so.

"I think we all want the same thing, and we're all working towards the same goal. So it's not a situation where I view them as in conflict," Barrett said.

Shaikh noted that he’s glad to see the city recognizing all the time and money he’s spent to make his establishment safe.

"There's money in infrastructure. There's money in training. We have a full-time staff that only sprays the restaurant down every hour we're open," he said.

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