At a meeting Tuesday morning, the Milwaukee Common Council voted 12-1, with 1 abstention, to reinstate a citywide indoor mask mandate. If signed by Mayor Cavalier Johnson, the mandate will be in effect through March 1.

Later on Tuesday, Johnson said he “anticipates signing” the new mandate.

Milwaukee’s previous mask mandate, which was tied to a public “Moving Milwaukee Forward” health order issued by the Milwaukee Health Department, ended June 1, 2021.

But when is a mandate not really a mandate? Milwaukee Health Commissioner has stated her department will be unable to enforce the mandate. At Tuesday’s meeting, Ald. Bob Bauman referred to the mandate as more of a “recommendation” to wear masks. The mandate comes with no financial penalties for non-complying businesses; instead, non-compliance may affect future license renewals.

Nevertheless, the mandate requires anyone 3 years old or older to wear a mask inside public buildings while in the City of Milwaukee. The mandate does not extend to communities in Milwaukee County.

Here’s the text of the ordinance:

This ordinance requires any person over 3 years old who enters a building open to the public to wear a face covering. The ordinance further specifies that the indoor face covering requirement shall be in effect until March 1, 2022.

In addition, the ordinance removes exceptions for 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. The ordinance also provides an exemption for performers during rehearsals or performances and individuals engaged in athletic activities. The ordinance also states that after receiving a first complaint about an owner or operator failing to enforce the face covering mandate, the health department may first contact the owner or operator of a building open to the public with a letter explaining his or her responsibilities as an owner or operator. If the health department receives an additional complaint after one week of the initial notification, the health department may follow up with the owner or operator with additional contact either in person, over the phone or virtually to discuss his or her responsibilities and develop strategies for implementation.

Finally, if the health department receives an additional complaint after the second contact with the owner or operator, the health department may conduct an onsite visit of the building open to the public and, if a violation is found, the health department may submit a written statement attesting to the violation to the license division, which will be added to the owner or operator’s license renewal application.

So yeah, Milwaukee’s indoor mask mandate is back. Sort of? There you go. Please share your opinion. Or don’t. Yeah, don’t.

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About The Author

Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.

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