A proposed ordinance that would require Milwaukeeans to wear masks in public—both indoors and outdoors—moved forward on Thursday. A program to provide free masks to citizens was approved, too.
The Public Safety and Health Committee, chaired by Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, discussed the mandatory mask issue for nearly two hours. In the end, the Dimitrijevic-penned MKE Cares ordinance was given the green light. The full Common Council will vote on the ordinance at a July 13 meeting. If approved, Mayor Tom Barrett would have 10 days to sign, veto, or return the ordinance. Barrett has already signaled his approval.
The ordinance passed on a 3-1-1 vote, with one objection and one abstention.
Topics of discussion during Thursday’s meeting included indoors vs. outdoors and enforcement. As stated in the text of the ordinance, only a violation of the indoor component—requiring anyone 3 years old or older to possess a mask and wear it “whenever the person is in a building open to the public”—would be subject to a penalty from the health department. Individuals would not be subject to any penalty, however, only business owners.
The outdoor component—requiring anyone 3 years old or older to possess a mask and wear it “whenever the person is in an outdoor public space and within 6 feet of any other person who is not a member of the person’s family or household”—would be entirely “self-enforced.”
Here’s the ordinance:
An ordinance relating to a requirement for face coverings in public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This ordinance creates a requirement for persons to wear face coverings when in public spaces for the duration of the ‘Moving Milwaukee Forward’ health and safety orders.
The Mayor and Common Council of the City of Milwaukee do ordain as follows:
Part 1. Section 62-1-11 and Section 62-1-12 of the code is created to read:
11. FACE COVERING means a protective mask covering the nose and mouth, including cloth face coverings or surgical masks as described by the centers for disease control and prevention.
12. BUILDING OPEN TO PUBLIC means any structure or premises licensed by the city of Milwaukee or used in whole or in part as a place of resort, assemblage, lodging, trade, traffic, occupancy, or other use by the public.
Part 2. Section 62-8 of the code is created to read:
62-8. Face Covering Requirements During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
1. MASK REQUIRED INDOORS. For the duration of the ‘Moving Milwaukee Forward’ health and safety orders, any person 3 years old or older who is present in the city of Milwaukee shall have possession of a face covering when the person leaves home or other place of residence and shall wear the face covering whenever the person is in a building open to the public.
2. MASK REQUIRED OUTDOORS. For the duration of the ‘Moving Milwaukee Forward’ health and safety orders, any person 3 years old or older who is present in the city of Milwaukee shall have possession of a face covering when the person leaves home or other place of residence and shall wear the face covering whenever the person is in an outdoor public space and within 6 feet of any other person who is not a member of the person’s family or household.
3. MASK REQUIRED FOR CITY FACILITIES AND EMPLOYEES. The commissioner of public works and director of employee relations shall establish a face covering requirement policy for all city employees and other persons on the premises of any city facility.
4. EXCEPTIONS. Exceptions for face coverings will be made under the following circumstances:
a. Persons who fall into the centers for disease control and prevention’s guidance for those who should not wear face coverings due to a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental disability, or are otherwise covered under the Americans with disabilities act.
b. Persons who have upper-respiratory chronic conditions, silent or invisible disabilities, or are communicating with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing and communication cannot be achieved through other means.
c. Persons in settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear face coverings when obtaining or rendering goods or services to the extent necessary to obtain or render such goods or services including but not limited to the receipt of dental services or medical treatments or consuming food or beverages.
d. Whenever federal, state, or local law otherwise prohibit wearing a face mask or where it is necessary to evaluate or verify an individual’s identity.
e. Persons whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering.
f. Persons present in government facilities closed to the public, institutions of higher education, public and private K through 12 schools, and childcare or youth facilities that have a mitigation strategy approved by the commissioner of health.
5. PENALTY. The health department shall enforce this section. The owner or operator of any building open to the public shall ensure all persons present in his or her building open to the public comply with sub. 1. The owner or operator of any building open to the public has the right to refuse entry or service to any person for failure to comply with sub. 1. Any owner or operator of a building open to the public that permits a person to violate sub. 1 in their building open to the public shall upon conviction forfeit not less than $50 and not more than $500. The commissioner of health and city attorney are authorized to pursue license revocation or a court order closing a building open to the public in accordance with state and local law for failing to require persons present to abide by sub. 1.
Also approved was the “Masks For All” program, under which “all City residents may receive a face mask without charge upon request.” The details of the program can be viewed HERE.
The nearby Village of Shorewood passed its own mandatory mask ordinance—though one with only an indoor component—Wednesday night.
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