by CHRIS ROGERS
Masks will required indoors across Wisconsin starting this Saturday, August 1, under a new order issued by Gov. Tony Evers today.
Face masks are required “whenever indoors or in an enclosed space, other than a private residence” and “any time another person who is not a member of your household or living unit is present in the same space,” under the order. Children under five years of age and people with medical conditions or disabilities preventing them from wearing masks are exempted. There are also exemptions allowing people to remove their masks while eating, drinking, and giving a presentation or performance. “Face coverings are strongly recommended in all other settings, including outdoors when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing,” the order reads.
Evers issued the mask mandate under a new emergency declaration he made today. A previous emergency declaration and a safer-at-home order issued by the head of Evers’ health department shuttered businesses this spring, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck it down in May, ruling that the health department did not have the authority to issue such an order without consulting the legislature.
This new declaration and order comes from the governor himself, who has far broader powers than his cabinet member. Under Wisconsin Statutes 323, “If the governor determines that a public health emergency exists, he or she may issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency related to public health …” and the governor may “issue such orders as he or she deems necessary for the security of persons and property.” The legislature can vote to revoke the governor’s emergency powers.
In declaring the emergency, Evers cited the 75-percent upswing in COVID-19 cases statewide since July 1. He pointed to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations for all Americans to wear masks and research indicating masks can help reduce the chances of COVID-19 spreading.
Under the order, violations are punishable by a civil citation and a fine of up to $200. More information is available here.