RACINE – City officials plan to loosen the Safer Racine ordinance restrictions, which will allow businesses to have more people in their establishments.

The policy change takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, according to a press release by the City of Racine.

Dottie-Kay Bowersox, the City of Racine Public Health Administrator, executed an emergency order issued by Governor Tony Evers about a year ago. The order closed all non-essential businesses. Over time, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state-wide shutdown, which prompted several municipalities to launch their own order called Safer Racine.

Under the ordinance, businesses — including restaurants and gyms — were capped at 25 percent capacity. A number of businesses challenged the Safer Racine ordinance in court.

The revised version that goes into effect on Monday would increase the capacity for many establishments and mass gatherings. The reason for the change: the number of reported covid-19 cases has dropped significantly.

“This week, the City of Racine, recognized one year since the notification of the first COVID-19 case within its jurisdiction.  During the previous twelve months, the worldwide pandemic has taken so many lives, required modifications to our lifestyles, and caused economic devastation which has taken its toll on the entire community.  With that stated, the City is experiencing a significant and sustained decline in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, increased and consistent testing opportunities, timely notification of positive cases and contact tracing, as well as increased vaccine distribution opportunities.  

Updates to the ordinance include: 

  • Bars, restaurants, indoor recreational facilities, faith-based places of worship, swimming pools, indoor places of arts and culture will be allowed to operate at 75% capacity as long as 6ft physical distancing can be maintained. 
  • Indoor and Outdoor mass gatherings will be allowed up to 75% capacity or no more than 200 persons, whichever is less (up from 50% or 50 people, whichever was less) for venues that require City approval or permits, or venues such as weddings, concerts, banquets, funerals, concerts, and festivals. 
  • High-risk recreational activities, such as school sports, are permitted with a limit of 2 spectators per player, coach, or officiating personnel, and no more than 75% occupancy of the facility or 200 persons, whichever is less. 
  • All other details can be found at www.racinecoronavirus.org/reopening 

The plan, however, does have provisions to shut down mass gatherings and capacity if cases surge again. The Public Health Administrator is given the authority to make such modifications to the City of Racine ordinance known as Safer Racine by the City of Racine Common Council.

“The Safer Racine reopening plan will continue to be evaluated and updated with the hope that these trends will continue but this relies on this community’s vigilance and willingness to get vaccinated.  As the State of Wisconsin expands eligibility and vaccine supply, it is imperative that all applicable Racinians get vaccinated,” Bowersox said. “This is the only way to ensure the protection of each of us from the virus and a return to the normalcy that we have compromised in order to ensure the health of the community. ” 

Bowersox thanked the community for their sacrifices over the last 12 months.

“As a reminder, the City’s Mask Ordinance is in effect and is one of the best ways to ensure the safety of your family, friends, and those you have yet to meet. This has been a long marathon, but there is reason to be optimistic and the finish line could be in sight. Let’s support one another and get there together. 

The updated Safer Racine document can be found at www.racinecoronavirus.org.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.