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RACINE COUNTY – With the number of COVID-19 cases in Racine County starting to drop, officials with the Central Racine County Health Department are loosening the reins on COVID-19 restrictions.

Individuals are encouraged to wear face coverings. And most retail businesses may continue to operate at 50 percent capacity to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, according to new reopening guidance released Monday by the Central Racine County Health Department (CRCHD).

The 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. The remaining Racine County municipalities (the City of Racine, Villages of Elmwood Park, and Wind Point) are within the City of Racine Public Health Department’s jurisdiction.

Tied to the COVID-19 case rate over 14 days within the CRCHD jurisdiction, the updated CRCHD recommendations are based on a “moderate” risk level.

“The coronavirus pandemic has not gone away,” Margaret Gesner, CRCHD health officer, said in a news release. “We need the entire community to remain vigilant so that our case rate does not increase. If our COVID-19 cases surge, our hospitals may be overwhelmed, and we may experience an increase in preventable deaths. These are all unacceptable outcomes for our community. We must protect the most vulnerable amongst us.”

Changes to COVID-19 restrictions

For individuals:

  • Physical distancing and facial covering 100 percent of the time when around non-household members while in public (including shopping).
  • Outdoor social gatherings of 50 people or fewer, facial coverings and physical distancing.
  • Indoor social gatherings are limited to 50 percent of capacity or a maximum of 50 people whichever is less; facial coverings and physical distancing.
  • When dining indoors, wear a facial covering when not eating/drinking and maintain physical distancing.
  • When dining outdoors, facial covering and physical distance not required if dining only with household members. Physical distance should be maintained if dining with non-household members.
  • Personal care services (hair salon, nails, salon-based massage, etc.) may be received only if the individual and the professional wear a facial covering.

For businesses, workplaces, and congregate settings

  • Daily temperature screening of workplace staff, operates offices at 50 percent of capacity, physical distancing, and facial coverings.
  • Government meetings should open with the screening of staff and public, operate at 50 percent of capacity. Maintain physical distancing and facial coverings for staff and the public.
  • Daily temperature screening of bar/restaurant staff. Operate at 50 percent of capacity, maintain 6 feet between tables. Facial coverings for staff and customers.
  • Daily temperature screening of staff at businesses selling groceries and medicine. Operate at 75 percent of capacity, assure physical distancing, facial coverings for staff and public.
  • Daily temperature screening of staff at all other retail establishments. Operate at 50 percent of capacity, assure physical distancing, facial coverings for staff and public.
  • Places of worship may operate at 25 percent of capacity. Discourage ill members from attending. Facial covering and physical distancing for worshippers.

Also, outdoor mass gatherings (fairs, festivals, concerts, etc.) are not recommended. If open, those types of events are limited to 250 people maximum of 50 percent of capacity, whichever is less. Physical distancing and facial coverings are recommended.

To view the full CRCHD guidance documents on the COVID-19 restrictions, visit: www.crchd.com/covid-19

In summary, the CRCHD news release included the following statement:

With many states showing the impact of opening too quickly, important measures that everyone should take to mitigate the spread of infection to protect individuals in the pre-vaccine environment include:

  • Using nonmedical face covering
  • Implementing school and worksite screening for symptoms of COVID-19
  • Incorporating engineering controls such as physical barriers where possible
  • Reconfiguring space to enable people to be located apart (ideally, at least 6 feet)
  • Cleaning and disinfecting according to CDC guidance
  • Posting signage to promote physical distancing and use of face coverings
  • Ensuring people with symptoms of COVID-19 stay home and call their healthcare provider
  • Washing hands frequently; covering your cough, avoiding touching your face; disinfecting frequently touched objects
  • Following Central Racine County Health Department isolation and quarantine orders

Note: People over age 65 and/or with underlying medical conditions may need to take additional precautions and consult with their medical provider before going into the public, work, or other settings.

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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.