RACINE — The City of Racine is moving into the next phase of its contested “Safer Racine” ordinance, the city Public Health Department announced just after noon Friday.
“Restrictions have been loosened to the benefit of all, but can quickly result in more harm than good. Individual residents and businesses choosing not to engage in a unified response will only put our community in danger,” City of Racine Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox said in a statement. “There is no doubt that the necessary policies taken to limit the spread of the disease have caused adverse fiscal and day-to-day living challenges for Racine businesses and residents.”
What this means
Restrictions were able to be lifted, Bowersox said, because:
- The Health Department has been able to quickly notify people with positive tests.
- Personal protective equipment has been accessible.
- The daily percentage of positive tests has not been spiking as it has remained near 10 percent over the past two weeks.
- “Health care resources continue to remain stable.”
Changes being implemented in Phase 2 include:
- Interaction between different groups/classrooms at child care centers, day camps and other summer programs is now allowed.
- Gyms and other indoor recreational facilities can now allow in 50% of their normal indoor capacity so long as six feet of social distancing could be maintained; previously the maximum was 25% or 10 individuals, whichever is greater.
- Churches and other places of worship can now allow in up to 50% of their indoor capacity.
- Outdoor playgrounds and skateboard parks can be open.
- Swimming pools, previously limited to 10 people at a time, can now allow up to 25% of their total capacity.
- “Indoor places of arts and culture,” such as movie theaters and museums, are allowed to have up to 50% of their total capacity.
- “Outdoor places of amusement and activity,” such as zoos and farmers markets, are no longer limited to 1,000 visitors per day. Up to 100 people can attend special events, so long as social distancing can remain.
- Public parking lots and bathrooms at beaches and parks can be fully open.
Things that haven’t changed include:
- Rules regarding restaurants, such as a limit to 50% capacity, have not changed.
- Splash pads must remain closed.
- “High-risk recreational activities” like football, basketball, soccer, volleyball and basketball are still not allowed.
- Hotels, tattoo parlors, hair salons, cleaning services and
can remain open while still following
The court case was initiated by Harbor Park CrossFit Owner David Yandel, who filed suit alleging that he is “unable to operate the business due to the Racine order under threat of criminal prosecution.”
The Public Health Department said that it has identified 1,500 COVID-19 cases since March, with more than 1,200 cases being reported since May 1.
The greater Racine area had one of the fastest transmission rates for COVID-19 in the country in early May, but the rate has greatly slowed in recent weeks, even as Wisconsin’s total transmission rate remains near the highest in the country.
No long-term guarantees
Bowersox said that these loosening restrictions might not be permanent. If a spike in cases is detected or supplies begin to run low, the rules can be changed.
“Restrictions have been loosened to the benefit of all, but can quickly result in more harm than good. Individual residents and businesses choosing not to engage in a unified response will only put our community in danger,” she said. “A rapid rise in cases, and associated hospitalizations, will easily shatter our fragile success up to this point.
“We will also most certainly experience more outbreaks at businesses or gatherings. Those outbreaks will close businesses, prevent future community events, and put employees out of work,” she continued. “Frivolously wasting the sacrifices made by our community will be devastating ... At this moment, Racine can either meet this challenge or buckle under the pressure of opportunity.”