By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer Published Jun 26, 2020 at 3:30 PM

As cities around the U.S. re-open, a growing number of states (including California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington) have also mandated the use of masks and facial coverings in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The mandates have been enacted as a response to the increase of coronavirus cases seen as the economy reopens. Masks have long been recommended by the CDC. However, new data shows that their impact can be significant. In fact, a recent study by a team of researchers in Texas and California has found that the use of masks is the most effective way to reduce person-to-person spread of coronavirus. 

Milwaukee restaurants call for action

Concern has risen among local bars and restaurants in the City of Milwaukee – which have been allowed to reopen as part of the Move Milwaukee Forward plan – that the risks of reopening outweigh the benefits.

Thus far, most restaurants have been able to maintain the health of their staff members by implementing safety measures and restricting their exposure to the public through offerings like curbside pick-up. But as more restaurants open their patios and dining rooms, the risk to staff increases exponentially as they are being exposed to countless guests, some of whom could be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19.

The dangers to restaurants go well beyond health. If one staff member gets sick, the restaurant needs to close to allow for both COVID-19 testing and necessary quarantines. Every closure means lost revenue for the businesses.

As a result, the Milwaukee Independent Restaurant Coalition (MIRC) has penned the following letter to city leadership.

MIRC letter

Mayor Tom Barrett
200 E. Wells St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202

President Cavalier Johnson
200 E. Wells St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202

June 26, 2020

Dear Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Cavalier Johnson,

We at MIRC believe in Moving Milwaukee Forward, and cannot wait to welcome our guests back to our restaurants, bars, patios and park-lets.

In addition to staying at home, wearing a mask is the #1 preventative measure we can take to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

We call on the City of Milwaukee to mandate the wearing of masks in all public spaces - grocery stores, theaters, museums, restaurants and bars (while not at your table), etc. This is our city and we deserve to be safe in it while supporting our local businesses.

Houston, Florida and Las Vegas opened up without public masking policies. These areas have seen spikes in cases and as a result have had to regress in their re-opening plans. Requiring masks will protect our industry, our employees, and will literally save lives.

We have the opportunity to be an example to both the state and the nation in terms of how to move forward safely, but we need the City of Milwaukee to act now.

Sincerely yours,
Daniel Jacobs, John Revord, and the Restaurant Owners of MIRC

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer

Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.

Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon. 

Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.