Talia Soglin Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
As cases of the coronavirus climb in Wisconsin, the state remains one of about a half of U.S. states that do not have a statewide requirement mandating face coverings in at least some public settings.
Some government institutions, including some city and county governments, are requiring masks inside their buildings. And the University of Wisconsin System said that masks will be mandatory on all its campuses this fall.
Last week, Gov. Tony Evers signaled he may issue a statewide mask mandate. He said that he expected such a mandate to be challenged by state Republicans and tossed out by the state’s Supreme Court, which overturned his stay-at-home order earlier in the pandemic.
Some counties and cities across the state have taken it upon themselves to issue their own mask mandates. We’ve listed them below.
The Ashland County Health Department issued an emergency advisory Monday to require face coverings indoors for all people age 5 and older. According to the Ashland Daily Press, however, local officials say that the advisory is not an order, and that health officials do not have the power to require masks.
The Ashland County Board chairman told the Daily Press that his board would consider issuing a mandate.
Like in Ashland County, Bayfield’s health department issued an emergency advisory Monday requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces.
“We do not take this advisory lightly,” Sara Wartman, the Bayfield County health officer, said in a news release. “It is on every person in our communities to do better. People should assume that everyone wearing a mask is doing it to protect you and themselves. If someone is not wearing a mask, assume they are genuinely not able to do so.”
As was the case in Ashland County, a Bayfield official told the Ashland Daily Press that the order was a “serious recommendation” but not a legal mandate. Bayfield’s positive COVID count as of Wednesday was 11.
Dane County’s mask mandate went into effect Monday. The order, which follows a spike of coronavirus cases among people in their 20s, requires face coverings in all indoor public spaces, except restaurants, for those age 5 and older.
Businesses or groups of individuals who violate the mandate after a first warning can be fined $376 in Madison and $263.50 in the rest of the county.
Concerns about business compliance can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Health officials have asked the public not to call 911 if they see an individual in public without a mask, noting that some may have health conditions that make doing so difficult.
In Glendale, those age 4 and older are required to wear masks in indoor public spaces when social distancing is impossible. The requirement is a resolution, not an ordinance; it does not carry enforcement measures or penalties.
Milwaukee’s mask mandate, which goes into effect Thursday, requires face coverings in all indoor public spaces and outdoors when maintaining 6 feet of distance between yourself and others you don’t live with is impossible. That includes spaces like apartment hallways and public patios. The mandate applies to those 3 and older.
“It’s very black and white,” Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said. “It’s everything outside of where you live.” The department plans to launch a program allowing all city residents to request and receive a mask for free.
People should not call 911 or 211 to report individuals without masks because some people may have a medical exemption. Repeat offenses by businesses failing to enforce face coverings may result in fines up to $500, and a business could get its license revoked if it continually refuses to comply.
Shorewood became the first Milwaukee-area community to require face masks in public buildings Friday.
The ordinance requires face coverings for those 4 and older when indoors, except when eating or drinking at a restaurant. Masks are also suggested when you must come within 6 feet of another person outdoors. One trustee said that the ordinance would most likely be enforced when businesses committed repeated violations.
One local business owner told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he appreciated the mandate.
“Otherwise, it is just you personally asking someone to do something they may not want to do,” he said. “Having the backup of government authority takes the personal element out of it.”
Contact Talia Soglin at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @talia_soglin.