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As coronavirus cases surge, Milwaukee businesses petition for mandatory mask wearing in public spaces


More than 70 Milwaukee restaurants and businesses have signed a letter to Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Cavalier Johnson calling for mandatory mask wearing in public spaces. In the letter, the businesses request that all workers and patrons at stores, museums, theaters, restaurants and bars be required to wear masks to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Without mandatory mask wearing, they write, "The risk is much higher for new outbreaks, which could result in new stay-at-home orders that put us out of business for good." The letter was signed by businesses including Fiserv Forum, Bartolotta Restaurants, Colectivo Coffee, The Pabst Theater Group and Lowlands Group.

The call comes as Milwaukee prepares to enter phase 4 of its reopening plan. Starting Wednesday, July 1, restaurants will be able to increase their dine-in capacity from 25% to 50%.

It also comes after the Milwaukee Public Market announced that it will require masks for everybody after three employees tested positive for COVID-19.

As COVID-19 cases surge around the country, Wisconsin's numbers have also started to trend in the wrong direction. Starting late last week, the state reported five days in a row with more than 400 new cases, including 539 new cases on Saturday, followed by its largest single-day report of new cases on a Monday.

Wisconsin's 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases is once again climbing rapidly |

The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in the state is similarly on the rise. On Sunday, Wisconsin say highest rate of positive tests in more than a month, an alarming 7.1%.

You can read the Milwaukee business owners' complete letter below. Individuals can sign a petition making a similar call here.