Ordinance to increase fines up to $5,000 for Milwaukee businesses violating COVID-19 orders moves forward

NOW: Ordinance to increase fines up to $5,000 for Milwaukee businesses violating COVID-19 orders moves forward

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Businesses in Milwaukee who fail to follow COVID-19 guidelines could soon face more expensive fines.

Right now, there are rules in place for social distancing, face masks and capacity limits.

The city’s Public Safety and Health Committee approved an ordinance on Thursday, November 12 increasing the potential fines for businesses breaking COVID-19 orders.

“It’s our belief that if the fine is steeper there would be more incentive to get voluntary compliance which is really what we need to occur,” Milwaukee Health Department Deputy Commissioner Claire Evers said.

The range for fines would give the department flexibility between $500-5,000 per violation up to $20,000. Violations can include lack of masks, social distancing or breaking capacity limits.

“That is quite a large increase,” Manager of Major Goolsby’s Pub & Grill Marty Petricca said

Petricca said Major Goolsby’s is following all of the city’s rules, but understand other may not.

“I would imagine $500 is going actually going pretty deep into their pockets, but maybe 5,000 will maybe make some people take it more seriously,” he said.

So far, the Milwaukee Health Department says only five to 10 citations have been given out, but they are increasing surveillance. Businesses with complaints will be the first looked at and then random checks will be carried out.

“We’re trying hard to operate during a very severe surge of the pandemic,” 14th District Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic said. “So the majority of people have the plans, they’re actually complying according to our health department and we thank you, but for those who choose to risk it, we cannot continue business as usual.”

The ordinance now goes to the Common Council for approval on November 24.

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