By Karen Stokes
On June 30, the Wisconsin Center welcomed back administrative office employees that were working remotely since the second week of March. To minimize any health risk to employees, the Wisconsin Center District has developed guidelines to bring them back safely.
A plan focused on two phases of reopening was developed to ensure the safety of the staff and visitors.
“What we call Phase One is preparing the administrative offices. Last week, we called back six full-time housekeeping staff to come in and fully deep clean and sanitize all of the space within the offices in the Wisconsin Center and The Miller High Life Theater,” said Marty Brooks, CEO of the Wisconsin Center District. “Separate and aside from the deep cleaning we developed a guideline book that was distributed to all the staff that describes what we’ve done and the changes to the office environment.”
Some of the changes are that all the employees and contractors can only enter via the Sixth Street entrance, stickers were placed on the floors to designate six-feet social distancing spacing and safety checkpoints with temperature checks. If temperatures are above 100.4, after five minutes employees are retested and if the temperature remains above 100.4, they are asked to go home and seek medical attention. For temperatures 100.4 or lower, employees receive a wristband verifying they have been checked.
“Phase Two is the deep cleaning, sterilizing and sanitizing of the public spaces of the Convention Center, Miller High Life Theater and the UW Panther Arena,” Brooks said. “We purchased eight Clorox 360 Sanitizing machines that will be used throughout the campus after every meeting or event.”
The WCD has had over 86 events either postponed or canceled because of COVID-19.
“It’s been very disappointing to have so many events that we have been working with event organizers in many cases for years,” said Brooks. “There are events scheduled in July, September and October but everything is very fluid now.”
One event that is on the schedule is The Democratic National Convention.
On June 24, The Democratic National Convention Committee announced the 2020 Democratic National Convention will be downsized and moved from Fiserv Forum to the Wisconsin Center.
Brooks said, next Monday they will begin recalls from the layoffs that occurred in April, over the next six-week period. At that time, all laid off employees will return to work so by the time of the Democratic National Convention there will be a full staff on board to support the demands of the convention.
“We haven’t been given the finalized schedule on what is going to be here but we do believe since they’re not using the Fiserv Forum, what they announced last week is that the convention floor itself will be in the exhibition space. We do expect offices to be used on the first or second floor of the Wisconsin Center, but the specific details on what meetings are taking place we don’t have the plan yet,” Brooks said.
The DNC will take place Monday, Aug. 17 through Thursday Aug. 20. On Thursday, the Democratic nominee will accept the nomination.
“People have to feel comfortable coming here, that’s the biggest challenge. Whether it’s the convention center, arena or theater, we feel confident that we have done everything that we can to make sure that they are coming to an environment that’s safe, clean and virus free,” said Brooks.