RACINE -- It's a time of year reserved for cookouts and fun with friends and family, but summer will look a little different in Racine this year.
The City of Racine Public Health Department on Tuesday, May 19 issued an order that limits mass gatherings of people through July 31.
The order applies to public events -- both planned and spontaneous -- such as festivals, block parties, the use of pavilions in city parks, and all other events which require city approval or permits. The order does not specify how many people would constitute a mass gathering.
"It's just not safe to close streets or to have permits for large-scale events where people are going to be close together and putting themselves and others in jeopardy of spreading coronavirus," Racine Mayor Cory Mason said.
Events scheduled to occur after July 31 will be reviewed by the Public Health Department in the coming weeks and approval or denial of those events will be based on the best data relating to the prevalence and spread of COVID-19 in the community.
"The quickest way through it, and getting back to some semblance of normalcy, is for people to maintain the respect for social distancing," said Mason. "We really need people to be mindful of not just their actions, but how their actions affect other people."
The city has increased access to community testing, too -- opening a site at Festival Hall.
The order comes as city leaders try to get the upper hand on the virus which has quickly spread through the city; cases have risen 20% in a week's time.
Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox released the following statement with the official order:
“As we continue to address the spread of COVID-19 in the community, we know that large gatherings present a direct threat to public health. One asymptomatic individual can infect dozens or more people and cause an outbreak. The City now has over 700 confirmed cases of coronavirus, when just a week ago we were at about 460 cases. That is why today I have issued an order to stop all large events that require City approval until July 31, 2020. Events currently being planned or scheduled to happen after that date will be evaluated based on what the spread of coronavirus looks like in the community over the coming months. I want to also clarify that this order is in addition to and separate from the City’s extension of the “Safer at Home” order which expires on May 26th. Later this week I plan to issue orders that will give businesses and residents guidelines on what will be a phased and gradual reopening of the local economy."