Retailers, bars and restaurants, located in most areas outside of the City of Racine, are urged to limit the number of customers and staff to 50 percent of establishment capacity and residents are encouraged to “strictly follow” social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet apart and to wear facemasks in public to prevent COVID-19 infection from spreading, according to new recommendations released Thursday by the Central Racine County Health Department (CRCHD).

The CRCHD issued the guidelines following Wednesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that overturned the statewide Safer at Home order. That move left it up to local municipalities to set rules protecting residents from COVID-19 outbreaks.

CRCHD’s jurisdiction covers the City of Burlington, the Villages of Caledonia, Mount Pleasant, North Bay, Raymond, Rochester, Sturtevant, Union Grove, Waterford, and Yorkville; and the Towns of Burlington, Dover, Norway, and Waterford.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the City of Racine Public Health Department extended the Safer at Home order until at least May 26 for the communities under its jurisdiction: the City of Racine and the Villages of Elmwood Park and Wind Point.

In a Thursday news release, the CRCHD stated that businesses are urged to adhere to social distancing-related guidelines, which include but are not limited to, the following:

  • All retail establishments should limit the number of customers and staff to no more than 50 percent of store capacity.
  • All restaurants should limit the number of customers and staff to 50 percent of establishment capacity. In addition, there should be no more than six people per table; tables should be arranged so that patrons at a given table are at least 6 feet from patrons at any other table.
  • Bars should limit the number of staff and customers to 50 percent of capacity.
  • Mass gatherings, whether indoor or outdoor, should be limited to 50 persons or 25 percent of capacity, whichever is greater.
  • Large venues and businesses should be limited to four people per 1,000 square feet.
  • Places of public amusement, whether indoor or outdoor, should be limited to 50 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever is greater.

The CRCHD also stated that scheduled festivals and fairs “should be canceled, postponed, or rescheduled for now.” Burlington ChocolateFest (held Memorial Day Weekend) and Raymond’s July 4 parade and celebration have already been called off for this year.

“Residents should strictly follow social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet of separation between other people. Residents also should limit travel, avoid crowds, wash hands regularly, and wear facemasks when in public,” the CRCHD release stated.

“With the Safer at Home order no longer in effect, it’s crucial that individuals and businesses adhere to smart practices and that individuals exercise safe behaviors so that we can prevent COVID-19 illness and deaths while supporting citizens who have been adversely impacted by the pandemic,” said Margaret Gesner, CRCHD health officer. “If we do not maintain best practices, more businesses may be forced to close for prolonged periods due to a high number of sick employees or outbreaks, hospitals may be overrun by ill individuals, more outbreaks may occur in our congregate settings such as nursing homes, and our community may experience preventable deaths, all unacceptable outcomes for our community and our businesses. We must protect the most vulnerable amongst us by committing to these safe practices.”

Failure by entities or locations to adhere to social distancing guidelines that result in people being infected or suspected of being infected may result in the spread of COVID-19 and further restrictions on those specific entities or locations, CRCHD stated.

For more information, visit the CRCHD Recommendations for Reopening Our Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic at www.crchd.com/covid-19 and the Rebound Racine County Task Force final report, which provided sector-by-sector action steps to safely and efficiently reopen. The report can be found here. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. provided similar reopening guidelines, which can be found here.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...