WAUKESHA, Wis. - There are no longer indoor capacity guidelines in Waukesha County. County leaders said the decision was made based on an overall decrease in COVID-19 cases, but some outside the county aren't happy about the change.
Owners of large venues in Waukesha County said they are happy that places like the Brookfield Conference Center will once again be filled, but one business owner in Milwaukee fears it will not only hurt her business but also lead to an increase in cases.
Story Hill FireHouse in Milwaukee prepared to host its first event Thursday night, March 25 after a long dry spell.
"We went for months – we opened again – we just reopened now," said Janelle Meyer-Brown, owner. "From Dec. 3 when there were restrictions of 10 people, we pretty much had to shut down."
Meyer-Brown said the city still restricts her to 75% capacity.
"Two blocks is West Allis," said Meyer-Brown. "One block over is Wauwatosa and then we have Waukesha. Nobody had restrictions on each side of us or west of us."
She reacted Thursday to the decision in Waukesha County to eliminate indoor capacity guidelines altogether.
"They were canceling their weddings and moving west – which scares me a little for the city of Milwaukee and its future," she said.
In February, FOX6 News reported the Milwaukee Health Department issued nearly $30,000 in fines to businesses that violated COVID-19 policies since last summer. Waukesha County leaders – who declined our request for an interview Thursday – never enforced COVID-19 guidelines. The previous recommendation in Waukesha County was 50% capacity or up to 250 people indoors.
"We continue as we have been for over a year to be guided by the science," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "We’re going to continue to do that because we think it’s the right thing to do."
Thirty percent of Waukesha County residents have been vaccinated. As of Thursday morning, Waukesha County’s seven-day positive COVID test rate was 12%, with cases trending up. County data showed hospitalizations also up after a spike the week prior.
Leaders in Waukesha County continue to urge social distancing and mask-wearing.