SHOREWOOD -- At Feerick Funeral Home in Shorewood, Friday marks a major change in business. While they have handled 40 small, private services since the pandemic hit, managers are only now booking their first full in-person visitation.
"It's difficult to operate as a funeral home when we can't do funerals," Funeral Director Kyle Feerick said.
The family business has weathered many challenges in its 125-year history, but they say not even the great depression – or wars – prepared them for the coronavirus' impact.
"It really has denied families the support they need and deserve to have at a time like this," President Patrick Feerick said.
Visitations account for 30% of a funeral's cost. Without them, the Feerick's have taken a hit. But all that changes in 'Phase C.'
"For gatherings in homes and other public venues, we are looking at a maximum of 50 people now - rather than 10 people," said Kevin Rorabeck of the North Shore Health Department.
Milwaukee County suburbs are relaxing restrictions on businesses. 'Phase C' for the North Shore Health Department's reopening guidelines means businesses can somewhat return to normal.
"Restaurants can open up to 75% occupancy. Retail is 50%," Rorabeck said.
Face masks and social distancing are still encouraged. While the North Shore has seen a downward trend in positive cases, health officials warn fewer people have been tested.
"The challenge is going to be for community members to be as responsible as possible," he said.