UPDATE (4/21/20): It was approved.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has said that the city’s “Stay At Home” order—enacted on March 25 in response to the COVID-19 crisis—“is not meant to be a law enforcement tool.” But a proposed ordinance may give the order a few more teeth when it comes to folks who willfully violate it. Not that anyone in Milwaukee (or the surrounding area) would do such a thing.

On Tuesday, a special meeting of the Public Safety and Health Committee will vote on a substitute ordinance “relating to enforcement of communicable disease orders” that “authorizes the commissioner of health [Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, pictured above] and police officers to issue orders and citations to any persons who willfully violate or obstruct the execution of an order issued under ch. 62 of the [Milwaukee Code of Ordinances] or ch. 252, [Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations].” The cost of the citations? Five-hundred bucks.

If approved, the ordinance will be voted on by the full Common Council, which is set to meet immediately following the Public Safety and Health Committee meeting.

The ordinance would bring Milwaukee in line with other communities, like Wauwatosa, where fines for violating “stay at home” orders have been raised to $500. Gov. Tony Evers’ original statewide “Safer At Home” order included a punishment of “up to 30 days imprisonment, or up to $250 fine, or both” for violating the order—though that, too, has been raised to $500.

Questions of how—and how often—the fine would actually be enforced remain.

The Milwaukee ordinance is sponsored by Ald. Mark Borkowski. Here’s the full text:

A substitute ordinance relating to enforcement of communicable disease orders.

This ordinance authorizes the commissioner of health and police officers to issue orders and citations to any persons who willfully violate or obstruct the execution of an order issued under ch. 62 of the code or ch. 252, Wis. Stats. It further provides a forfeiture of $500 for violating this ordinance.

The Mayor and Common Council of the City of Milwaukee do ordain as follows:

Part 1. Section 62-10 of the code is created to read:

62-10. Violation or Obstruction of Orders.
The commissioner and any police officer are authorized to issue orders and citations to any persons who willfully violate or obstruct the execution of an order issued under this chapter or ch. 252, Wis. Stats.

Part 2. Section 62-19 of the code is amended to read:

62-19. Penalties.
Any person who violates a section listed in column A shall be liable on conviction to the penalties for the class of violations listed in column B and described in ch. 61:

A           B

62-7-1 Class F

62-7-2 Class C

62-7-3 Class F

62-9-5 Class F

>>62-10 Class L<<

62-11 Class E

62-13 Class E

62-17 Class A

About The Author

Matt Wild
Co-Founder and Editor

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