Milwaukee mask mandate ends, businesses decide whether to require

The city of Milwaukee's COVID-19 public health order expired Tuesday, June 1 – scrapping capacity limits and the mask ordinance.

Milwaukee businesses now have to decide what to do, and some may still ask patrons to mask up.

"I think it’s too early. There are still people who are catching COVID-19, unfortunately," said Natasha Jules of Jewels Caribbean Bar & Restaurant. "It’s a dangerous time. So, we are going to err on the side of caution. And the mask doesn’t prevent you from enjoying yourself."

The restaurant, located in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood, will ask patrons to mask up and spread out.

The business is getting ready for a Prince tribute show on Friday. On Saturday, there will be a reggae show.

"We are still reducing our capacity so that people can safely social distance. We still have our tables spread far apart to accommodate that," said Jules.

Jewels Caribbean Bar & Restaurant

Downtown at Third Street Tavern, masks are optional.

"I feel like the staff is making more money. Personality, that’s a big piece of it. Just being able to have fun with people, be able to show some of those emotions, especially as we get into Bucks games, and everyone is kind of muffle-cheering with the mask on. Now, I expect it to be really loud and really exciting," said Jack Roman, director of marketing for Cream City Concepts, which runs Third Street Tavern and other businesses.

Third Street Tavern

With the end of mandated COVID-19 safety plans, it also means more tables chairs at Third Street Tavern. They're turning on all the arcade games. One part of the COVID-19 protocols, though, is staying put at the tavern: the barriers between tables on the patio.

"What we found was that our guests really liked the barriers, not just in the social distancing, but it really cuts the wind and gives them a sense of privacy. So we actually decided to keep them up for now," Roman said.

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The patchwork of businesses requiring or not requiring masks is a return to a similar situation as last spring, before the July passage of Milwaukee's mandate, when some businesses required them, others didn't.



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