Racine health department moves into next phase of 'Safer Racine' ordinance, effective immediately

RACINE -– The City of Racine Public Health Department on Friday, July 10 announced that is moving forward with the "Safer Racine" ordinance, having provided the first round of revisions to a public health decision that has been mired in legal battles.

The ordinance was passed on June 22, but was deemed "vague and unenforceable" by a judge on July 1.

Revisions follow an evaluation, revision and release date of July 9. In keeping with that timeline, revisions to the ordinance have been made and will go in effect immediately, Dottie-Kay Bowersox, public health administrator for the City of Racine, announced. The next evaluation and potential revisions to the Safer Racine ordinance can be expected on or around July 31.

The updated Safer Racine plan includes modifications to rules for long-term care facilities, daycares, indoor recreational facilities, pools, zoos, mass gatherings and other venues. Restrictions for restaurants, bars and food trucks remain the same.

Mass gatherings, previously limited to groups of 25 if six-feet distancing could be maintained, has been increased to 50% of indoor capacity if distancing can be maintained -- or 100 people, whichever is less.

The revision now allows long-term care facilities to operate under Wisconsin Department of Health Services and CDC guidelines. The original June 22 order banned outside visitors and group activities. That ban is no longer in effect.

Recreational facilities, such as gyms, can now operate at 50% capacity if social distancing of six feet can be maintained; an increase from 25% under the original ordinance.

A 50% capacity limit, social distancing of six feet in place, is also the guideline issued for places of worship. Previously, such places had been limited based on square footage. The same changes have been applied to museums and movie theaters.

Outdoor playgrounds are now allowed to reopen under health guidelines, too.

Copies of the updated “Safer Racine” plan can be found online HERE.

    With the release of the updated plan, Bowersox issued the following statement:

    “There is no doubt that the necessary policies taken to limit the spread of the disease have caused adverse fiscal and day-to-day living challenges for Racine businesses and residents. The COVID-19 pandemic has also, without a doubt, presented our Health Care and Public Health experts with an unprecedented challenge not experienced in over a century (1918 Influenza).

    "Every resident and employer must continue do their part to slow the spread of the disease. COVID-19 remains a highly infectious disease, regardless of pre-existing health conditions and age. This requires us to aggressively adhere to social distancing, practice proper hand hygiene, employ disinfection best practices, utilize face coverings, and limit interactions with large groups. The updates to Safer Racine can only be sustained if the metrics are moving in the right direction (e.g. fewer positive cases and fewer hospitalizations). Safer Racine affirms that we have an opportunity to safely reopen and pursue the arduous journey of reinvigorating our local economy.

    "Restrictions have been loosened to the benefit of all, but can quickly result in more harm than good. Individual residents and businesses choosing not to engage in a unified response will only put our community in danger. A rapid rise in cases, and associated hospitalizations, will easily shatter our fragile success up to this point.  We will also most certainly experience more outbreaks at businesses or gatherings. Those outbreaks will close businesses, prevent future community events, and put employees out of work.  Frivolously wasting the sacrifices made by our community will be devastating and exhaust what little energy we may still have left to give in the pursuit of containing a second wave.

    "At this moment, Racine can either meet this challenge or buckle under the pressure of opportunity. Let it be through our own actions that we are allowed to remain witnesses, not careless victims, to the seemly enduring nature of COVID-19 pandemic. Stay Safe Racine.”