Last week, the Public Safety and Health Committee approved the so-called “MKE Cares” ordinance. The ordinance requires all Milwaukeeans 3 years old or older to possess a mask and wear it “whenever the person is in a building open to the public,” and “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.” The full Common Council will vote on the matter today at a special 1:30 p.m. meeting. If approved, Mayor Tom Barrett would have 10 days to sign, veto, or return the ordinance.

“MKE Cares” looks likely to pass (Barrett has already signaled his approval), but just in case it’s not clear: a lot of Milwaukee businesses and organizations support the mask mandate. Here’s a new letter addressed to the Common Council and Mayor Barrett, signed by those business (including Milwaukee Record):

Dear Honorable Members of the Milwaukee Common Council and Mayor Tom Barrett:

As Milwaukee businesses and organizations, we are writing in support of the proposed “MKE Cares” ordinance (#200426) that the Common Council’s Public Health and Safety Committee endorsed on Thursday.

As the Covid-19 pandemic grows in Wisconsin and rages across the country, now is the time for the Common Council and mayor to enact this life-saving measure.

Without a city mandate, many customers will not be willing to come to our businesses. Compliance with requirements a business may establish will be inconsistent at best without a city requirement. Our employees can’t be assured of a safe work environment. And the risk is much higher for new outbreaks, which could result in new stay-at-home orders that put us out of business for good.

We support the mask requirement for indoor areas and outdoor areas licensed to our businesses, and we are in agreement with the requirement for masks to be worn outdoors in non-business locations within six feet of non-family members.

We also back the enforcement provisions, which are no different than laws we already manage and enforce to ensure that customers refrain from smoking and that they wear shirts and shoes in our establishments.

We believe the passage of this ordinance will result in the vast majority of people complying voluntarily, as they have already done for 10 years with Wisconsin’s no-smoking law. With this law on the books, we will have leverage needed to educate patrons about the requirement or ask them to leave if necessary.

Milwaukee residents and businesses cannot afford to wait for you to act. We urge council members to vote in favor of this legislation on Monday and for the mayor to sign it into law as soon as possible.

Also up for Common Council vote on Monday is 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.

Oh, and here’s the full “MKE Cares” ordinance:

Title
An ordinance relating to a requirement for face coverings in public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Section
62-1-11 cr
62-1-12 cr
62-8 cr

Analysis
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.

Body
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:

62-1. Definitions.

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.

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About The Author

Matt Wild
Co-Founder and Editor

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

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