In light of the Center for Disease Control’s announcement on May 13 that vaccinated individuals can safely resume activities without a mask, the Milwaukee Health Department has made the decision to let the Moving Milwaukee Forward Health Order expire on June 1.

The order’s expiration will also end the requirements of the existing Milwaukee mask ordinance. The loosening of restrictions puts an added emphasis on vaccinations.

“Our goal when making decisions throughout this entire pandemic has always been to do the most good for the most people and protect our vulnerable population,” said Commissioner Kirsten Johnson. “We’ve listened to the infectious disease experts and epidemiologists, followed the science, and closely aligned with the CDC’s recommendations and guidance, and that is what we will continue to do going forward.”

The Moving Milwaukee Forward health order, which was issued on May 14, 2020, was previously set to expire on June 15. This date was moved up to June 1. At that time, all capacity restrictions will be lifted along with the mask ordinance.

The chosen date will give businesses two weeks to determine any safety policies they would like to implement. The Milwaukee Health Department will continue to be a resource for businesses as they determine the best policies for their staff and guests.

“We need to remember COVID-19 is still present here, and there are quite a number of people who are not vaccinated,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “Our business owners know their customer base well, and we support any business that chooses to continue to enforce safety policies. If a business says its patrons should wear a mask, we all need to respect that.”

The public health guidance to forgo masks is for fully vaccinated individuals only. Fully vaccinated, by the CDC’s guidelines, refers to individuals who are two weeks past their second dose for Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks past their single dose for Johnson & Johnson.

If individuals are not fully vaccinated, they should continue to wear masks in any public indoor settings. The CDC’s guidance does not include schools, healthcare settings, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters, so fully vaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask in these environments.

Milwaukee has more than enough supply of vaccine for everyone who wants that protection. Vaccination clinics don’t require an appointment, and mobile vaccination clinics are hosted throughout the city every day.

© Photo

Lee Matz

The Milwaukee Independent began reporting on what was then referred to as the mysterious “Wuhan Virus” in January 2020. Other local media did not picked-up on the story until many weeks later. Our early features focused on the economic impact, social issues, and health concerns long before other Milwaukee news organizations even mentioned the coronavirus. Over the following year, we have published hundreds of articles about the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Milwaukee residents. This extensive body of work can be found on our COVID-19 Special Report page, a chronological index of links by month. Our editorial voice remains dedicated to informing the public about this health crisis for as long as it persists.
For medical resources, please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 page or the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. All editorial content published by Milwaukee Independent can be found at With a mission of transformative journalism, our staff is free from commercial bias and are not influenced by corporate interests, political affiliations, or a public preferences that rewards clicks with revenue. As an influential publication that provides Milwaukee with quality journalism, our award-winning photojournalism and features have helped to achieve a range of positive social impact that enriches our community. Please join our effort by entrusting us with your contribution. Your Support Matters - Donate Now