Alder Grant Foster
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Foster’s Updates
Madison Reopens for Business - D15 Update 5/25/20
Public Health Allows Businesses to Reopen: Following two months of significant restrictions on non-essential activities, Public Health Madison & Dane County issued Emergency Order #3 on Friday, lifting most of those restrictions effective Tuesday, May 26. This new order replaces the restrictions that have been in place and allows mass gatherings of up to 50 people inside of commercial buildings (and outdoors as well). Mass gatherings of 10 people are permitted inside private buildings. All businesses and churches are allowed to resume operations with limits of 25% of their permitted occupancy.
While this updated order will certainly come as a welcome relief to some, I was surprised at the speed and magnitude of the changes and remain concerned about the potential for a rapid increase locally in COVID-19 infections. Mass gatherings of 50 people from different households congregating indoors for extended periods of time does not appear to be a low risk activity given the available science and I'm concerned that such an abrupt reopening may create the conditions for a rapid spread of COVID-19 infections. Allowing customers to socialize at bars and restaurants for extended periods of time (even at reduced capacity and with expectations of physical distancing) increases the risk of spread to each other as well as to those required to work in those businesses. Perhaps most surprisingly, the Forward Dane plan that accompanied the new order does not include any criteria for reinstating protections if and when conditions worsen.
Similar concerns were raised by one local scientist with two decades background in the field of Virology in an email sent to local elected officials this morning. Dr. Greg Gelembiuk cited significant research that indicates that we are not prepared for such a broad reopening of our economy given our current level of testing, contact tracing, and the prevalence of new COVID-19 positive cases. As he points out in his email, 'The Imperial College London report issued yesterday estimates that Wisconsin currently has the tenth highest Rt (effective reproduction number – a measure of epidemic expansion) in the U.S., and that the epidemic is not under control here.'
I urge everyone to think carefully before heading out to engage in non-essential activities, particularly those that involve spending time indoors for extended periods of time or around groups of people. While the new order from Public Health permits these activities, continuing to limit contact with those outside of your household is still the best way to keep you, your family, and the rest of our community safe.
- Businesses to Reopen, but Public Meetings still Prohibited?: In spite of a general reopening of businesses, over half of our scheduled public meetings remain cancelled and are prohibited from meeting (even virtually) as they have not been granted permission by the mayor. I am cosponsoring an ordinance change to remove this prohibition and to allow the essential business of our public policy work to resume. As we dig into the hard work to recover from this pandemic, we need our public bodies to take the lead. These boards, committees, and commissions include many resident experts and allow policy making to happen in public with input from members of the community. Without these meetings, decisions will continue to be made by a select few and out of public view.
- Alcohol License Non-renewals: The Alcohol License Review Committee is one of the few committees that has been given permission to meet this week. They will begin to review the annual license renewals at special meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. These meetings will focus on licenses that are separated for review and discussion based on concerns and issues over the past year.
Two D15 establishments that have been separated include Jo Beck's bar on Wednesday and Visions nightclub on Thursday. If anyone has any feedback they'd like to share on either establishment, please send me an email and I will pass on to ALRC.
Parking Restrictions Resume: Effective June 1st, the City of Madison Parking Division will reinstate enforcement of on-street meters and Street Sweeping restrictions. You can find the details here.
Save the Date
Joseph Krupp is proposing to redevelop the properties at 3900 Monona Drive, 109 and 209 Cottage Grove Road (Exhaust Pros, Former Jade Monkey, and Lakeside Shopping Center). There will be an initial virtual public informational meeting scheduled for June 4th to hear details about the proposal and to provide feedback. I will share more details as we get closer to the date.
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