Racine business says clients want 'freedom' after city enacts COVID-19 restrictions

RACINE -- The City of Racine passed an ordinance to adopt COVID-19 restrictions for businesses on Monday, June 22 just days after a judge placed an injunction on the city's emergency health order.

City leaders said the decision was necessary as Racine continues to be a hot spot for the virus, but business owners feel they can get back to work safely -- on their own.

With music blaring, hearts pumping and lots of swearing, class workouts are back -- but with strong limits -- at Harbor Park CrossFit in Racine. Co-owner Dave Yandel said limits threaten the livelihood of his business.

Harbor Park CrossFit

"I feel like, as a responsible business owner, I have that right to make my customers safe. I don't need a law or a city official to tell me exactly how to run my business," said Yandel.

Corian and Dave Yandel

Harbor Park offers small classes anyway, so social distancing is not a problem. Now, every client carries a cleaning kit with them to sanitize.

"Our clients wanted us to be open. They wanted the freedom to be able to choose what's good for them and what's not," said Corian Yandel, co-owner of Harbor Park CrossFit.

The Yandels' problem lies with the restrictions imposed by the city, which stood in an emergency health order until Friday when a judge put it on hold after the Yandels filed suit. Then, late Monday, June 22, the Racine Common Council passed an ordinance to, again, enact those restrictions.

The restrictions limit gyms to just 10 people, restaurants to 50% capacity and more.

Racine Mayor Cory Mason

"We need to have the authority rested in our public health administrator's ability to dial it up if we need to, but also to dial it down if we're seeing the number of cases continue to decline," Racine Mayor Cory Mason said.

Right now, Racine remains a hot spot for COVID-19; it has the highest case total per capita in the state, but that case total is declining. Those data tell the story for Mason.

"Our efforts are working, which means we need to see them through, not abandon them," said Mason.

Those efforts are what business owners hope can keep them afloat.

The city still plans to re-evaluate the "Safer Racine" restrictions on Tuesday, June 30. Meanwhile, the Yandels' lawsuit continues to move through the court.