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Milwaukee bars and restaurants required to submit safety plans to continue indoor operations

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Restaurants and bars have been operating at 50% for the last couple of weeks. The city of Milwaukee is not yet able to move past that as numbers for the coronavirus continue in the red. 

Concerns are growing over the spread of the virus, especially in places that allow eating and drinking inside. Milwaukee's health commissioner announced a new order taking steps towards moving forward. The next COVID-19 order this week will require bars and restaurants that want to continue in-person dining to submit a safety plan. 

"Once that date hits, you're not going to be able to serve indoors unless you have that approved plan," Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeannette Kowalik said during a zoom call. 

Kowalik announced Order 4.1 which will require restaurants and bars to submit safety plans if they wish to continue indoor dining operations. The move was made in response to concerns over the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

"We're already in the process of building that plan, and this is just kind of giving a little more guidance as to what specifics they're looking for," Marketing director and operations manager of Stand Eat Drink Sean Wille said.

Wille said they, like many other restaurants and bars, have put in a lot of work to get to this point and look forward to helping get guests and staff on the same page. They are still operating at 50% since Phase 4 started a few weeks ago. The new order provides hope to move beyond this to full capacity.

"We're in support of making sure that there's a standard and that there's safety and that we are able to operate in some accordance with what everybody else is in terms of a new normal for restaurant guidelines," Wille said.

Wille says the safety plan will include overall cleanliness and disinfection, but also how social distance is maintained inside the location, and how the public is made aware of standards.

There is not yet a deadline for it, but Kowalik said once it hits, without it businesses will not be allowed to operate. 

"Since the first shutdown, we closed our inside dining room and have made arrangements to not reopen it," Aaron Patin, chef and owner of Iron Grate BBQ Co. said.

However, Iron Grate Barbecue Company's lead pyro technician says they don't plan on ever opening up again, and will keep operating as to-go and limited outdoor dining basis, and have since converted their indoor space to a butcher shop and creating other meat products. They cited employee and client safety as the main reason for that change. 

"Our dining room at best (can) cram 30 seats in there," Patin said. "So to operate anything less than that while needing staff to maintain a clean, safe dining room and adding more focus and attention on that just didn't make sense in balance for us."

CBS 58 has reached out to the city's Health Department who said they are still working on the plan and requirements for bars and restaurants, as well as a deadline for when plans need to be submitted. More details are expected to be given Friday, July 31. 


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