An ordinance aimed at striking a balance between COVID-19 precautions and giving local restaurants and bars a fighting financial chance amid the pandemic has advanced and could be in place in the coming weeks.
The Kenosha City Council held the first of two readings of the document, which give local establishments greater outdoor seating accommodations to socially distance patrons.
Mayor John Antaramian first introduced the outdoor seating proposal at the council’s June 1 meeting, but aldermen on a 14-3 vote refrained from taking any action because an ordinance draft had not been furnished.
At Monday’s meeting, the council combed through Antaramian’s four-page proposal. A second, and final, reading of the ordinance will go before the council at its next meeting and will then go on the city’s books if it is adopted.
Antaramian said the ordinance fits hand-in-glove into the Kenosha Kickstart plan, which was created in conjunction with the Kenosha County Health Department.
In the document, city officials suggest restaurants and bars limit tables to six guests and use outdoor seating during the coming warm-weathered months to accommodate for the reduced accommodations inside.
A passage within the draft ordinance says, “It is in the best interest of the City of Kenosha and the … food and beverage industry to provide temporary relief … by adjusting certain local code requirements.”
As outlined in the ordinance, restaurants and bars could have the opportunity to provide outdoor seating in parking areas, right of ways, sidewalks, open spaces and adjacent properties during the temporary provisions in place.
The council on Monday also reviewed and took action on another ordinance that comes in response to the pandemic. A resolution addressing face coverings in public places was approved unanimously.
Discussion of the resolution first arose June 1 and was subsequently forwarded to the city’s Public Safety and Welfare Committee for review.
An initial version of the resolution called for an “order” that licensed establishments within the city require face coverings. However, a modified and adopted version replaced the word with “recommend.”
The document states the city is recommending employees wear face coverings “while engaged by their employer and unable to maintain a six-foot social distance.”
It also is requiring establishments post written notice at all entrances of the face covering policy and convey the message on all official social media channels and websites.
Morrissey named new city administrator
The City Council also unanimously approved Antaramian’s appointment of John Morrissey as Kenosha’s next city administrator. He is succeeding Randy Hernandez, who held the position for a year and recently tendered his resignation.
Morrissey, a 28-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department, served his last eight years as police chief before retiring in 2016. In December, he returned to the city’s employ in a newly created part-time position: department of city inspections.
Of Hernandez’s oversight of day-to-day city operations, Antaramian said, “I truly do appreciate all the hard work he did, and I’m sorry to see him go.”
In the road ahead, as Morrissey assumes the role, Antaramian said, “I’m confident he’s going to do an excellent job for the city. We have a lot of exciting projects to move forward on.”
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