Racine Common Council extends COVID-19 emergency declaration to Dec. 31

The City of Racine Common Council on Wednesday night, Aug. 5 voted 11-2 to extend the city's coronavirus emergency declaration until the end of the year.

The city's "Safer Racine" business restrictions were also put on the consent agenda and passed at the virtual meeting on Wednesday.

At Racine City Hall, access remains limited to protect city employees and the people they serve, and businesses remain limited on the capacity they can serve. It is all tied to the Safer Racine plan, mask mandate and emergency declaration made in the fight against COVID-19.

"We all have to do our part. We have to wear the masks. We have to keep six feet apart," Racine Mayor Cory Mason said. "We have to do all that work if we want to get through it."

"The hope is that the masks work extremely well, and you can sort of continue to raise the flexibility that we have in there. The concern is, if things get worse, you also need the authority from our public health administrator to make changes if she needs to."

Social distancing markings at a Racine restaurant

Mason said it is a small step to move the city forward and contain the coronavirus pandemic. His opponents, however, feel it does the opposite, moving Racine back on a different metric -- business.

"By putting a mask ordinance into place, it raises a level of fear that I personally think is unnecessary, and it still has an ill effect on the businesses," said Jim Venturini, former chairman of Downtown Racine Corporation.

With nearby municipalities under different orders, Venturini said Racine's businesses feel the impact and that the decisions should be up to the individual.

"We can make that decision as adults whether or not we should have it on. There's no reason for it," Venturini said.

The meeting was streamed on the city's Facebook page at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.