Alderman suggests 'water, power shut off to nonessential businesses' not complying with orders

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey in a statement Monday, March 30 said he reached out to Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik, asking that she "create a process" where power and water could be shut off at nonessential businesses not complying with the state and local stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus.

Alderman Rainey spoke of a similar order issued by the mayor of Los Angeles. His statement is below:

"Last week the Mayor of Los Angeles issued an order to have water and power shut off to non-essential businesses that were staying open despite government emergency orders that they be closed.

Today I have asked Milwaukee Health Department Commissioner Dr. Jeanette Kowalik to include this same directive as part of her stay-at-home order for the City of Milwaukee. I have asked Commissioner Kowalik to create a process whereby non-essential businesses that have been ignoring the order to close will be served first with a notice that warns of the power and water shut-off.

Those that refuse to close will then have all power and water service turned off until further notice.

I find it incredibly selfish and reckless for any non-essential business to continue to operate during the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. The north side and the 7th District are at the epicenter of the city’s COVID-19 outbreak, and by (population) percentage of virus spread, Milwaukee is unfortunately in the top eight in the nation, and numerous individuals from Milwaukee have already died of the disease. A non-essential business that stays open could be the source (unwittingly) of hundreds of new COVID-19 infections, and who knows how many possible deaths.

As a city we need to do everything we can and use every tool at our disposal to stop the spread of the virus, and I believe shutting off the lights and the water to scofflaw businesses is one key option Milwaukee must pursue."

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued a sweeping order Tuesday, March 24, closing businesses nonessential businesses, banning gatherings of any size and imposing month-long travel restrictions starting Wednesday, March 25 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Mayor Tom Barrett issued a "Stay at Home" order starting Wednesday morning, March 25 modeled after those in effect in other states, closing all non-essential businesses.

Gov. Evers on March 17 ordered a statewide ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people, and closed all bars and dine-in restaurants ( with delivery and pickup orders still permitted).

Other Milwaukee aldermen have issued statements pleading with residents to take these orders seriously to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, with 627 positive cases in Milwaukee County as of Monday afternoon, and 10 deaths in the county.