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As coronavirus cases rise, restaurants reimpose masking requirements

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MADISON (WKOW) -- As coronavirus cases in Wisconsin reach their highest levels since February, some restaurants in Madison are bringing back some restrictions that were recently taken away.

Lucille, a popular pizzeria in downtown Madison, is now requiring that all of its staff wear masks when working, regardless of whether they're vaccinated or not.

"We thought that with the very latest release that it was the best thing for our employees and for our guests — that we just take this extra step," said Lucille General Manager Charly Rowe.

Lucille General Manager Charly Rowe alongside masked employees. (Photo: Ward Jolles, WKOW)

Restaurant managers have also posted signs throughout the restaurant asking customers dining indoors to do the same.

"It's a difficult thing as an asmathic, it can create problems for me personally. We work in an incredibly hot environment," Rowe said. "But, we have heard from our staff, we've had the discussions, we've made the decisions that at this time, is is probably the best decision for us all."

Other restaurants are also imposing masking guidelines again. Just across the street at Tipsy Cow, management has taken similar steps.

"With how busy we are on the square here with all the people coming in, better safe than sorry," said Tipsy Cow manager Katherine Kehoe.

Health experts say while the new restrictions may be harmful in the short run, it's the right step to take for the long run, especially if cases continue to rise.

Outside of the Tipsy Cow, a masked worker serves customers. (Photo: Ward Jolles, WKOW)

"The last thing that our businesses can afford right now is further decimation of their work force. They're already having a hard time finding people," said UW Health Chief Quality Officer Jeff Pothof. "So doing things that they need to do to keep their workers safe is probably one of their top priorities as they try to carry on business as usual."

Rowe says until she sees case numbers drop dramatically again, the restrictions will remain in place, and if things get worse, more may be to come.

"Our job right now is to be a place where people feel welcome, where they can still feel safe," Rowe said. "And this is the message we're sending — that we'll do what it takes to make you feel safe here."

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Ward Jolles

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