Gov. Tony Evers has issued a statewide mask mandate, effective Saturday, Aug. 1.
That won’t make a difference to businesses in Dane County, which has had a mask order since July 13.
The emergency order, issued Thursday, July 30, cites President Trump’s COVID-19 task force suggestion for a statewide mandate as the impetus behind the directive. Evers also cites the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation for masks or face coverings to be worn to stop the continued rise in COVID-19 cases, as the United States struggles to contain the pandemic.
“All Wisconsinites are called upon to join in the collective effort to stop the devastating impact of COVID-19 by wearing a face covering, not harassing or threatening Wisconsinites who wear a face covering, and showing patience and compassion for those who are unable to wear a face covering safely,” the emergency order states.
As with Dane County’s order, anyone 5 or older in Wisconsin must wear a face covering if indoors or in an enclosed space (other than at a private residence), when at least one other person outside of that person's household or living unit is present in the same indoors or enclosed space.
The order defines an enclosed space as “a confined space open to the public where individuals congregate, including but not limited to outdoor bars, outdoor restaurants, taxis, public transit, ride-share vehicles, and outdoor park structures.”
Face coverings are strongly recommended in all other settings, including outdoors when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing, according to the order.
“Based on input from state and local public health officials, medical professionals, and business leaders, I have determined that a statewide face covering requirement is necessary to protect persons throughout the State of Wisconsin from COVID-19,” Evers wrote in the order. “Widespread use of face coverings will slow the spread of COVID-19, allowing Wisconsin's economy to move forward by making sure businesses can stay open and jobs are available.”
According to the order, 31 states have already issued a full or partial face covering requirements for the public.
Only four of Wisconsin’s 72 counties had issued some form of official mask guidance as of July 15, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article updated July 30 reported. Dane County is the only one that issued an official mandate, on July 7. Ashland and Bayfield counties issued emergency advisories effective July 13 and Door County issued an emergency advisory effective July 24. Some communities and cities across the state had also issued various forms of mask requirements.
Dane County’s guidance is an official mandate, carrying with it a fine of $376 in Madison and $263.50 in the rest of the county for businesses or groups of individuals who violated the mandate after one warning. The other three county’s advisories were not enforceable.
The state’s emergency order brings with it a fine of up to $200 for non-compliance. However, several county sheriffs across the state have already declared they do not plan to enforce the order, with some calling Evers’ emergency order an overreach by the state’s government.