Common Council approves mask mandate for City of Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Common Council voted Monday afternoon to approve a mandatory mask ordinance for the City of Milwaukee, in order to slow the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The mandate passed unanimously, 15-0.

The ordinance, introduced on July 6 by Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic and forwarded by the Public Safety and Health Committee last Thursday, requires a mask or face covering on any person in an indoor public space, as well as a mask or face covering on any person in an outdoor public space when within six feet of another person – save for those who are members of the person’s family or household – for the duration of the ongoing “Moving Milwaukee Forward” health and safety orders. Building owners and operators found allowing violations of the ordinance will be given a citation of no less than $50 and no more than $500, enforced by the health department. All businesses open to the public must enforce the mandate or risk the health department revoking licenses or closing the building down.

Children under three years old, those who shouldn’t wear masks due to a medical condition or disability, and select impractical cases – such as receiving dental services or during the act of eating or drinking – are exempt from the ordinance.

The mandate now goes to Mayor Tom Barrett for a signature, veto or unsigned return. Barrett has previously voiced his support for the mandate and said he would ask the health department to implement a mask policy if it were to fall short in the Common Council.

During the Monday session, the Common Council also unanimously passed a “Masks for All” resolution, which will establish a program to give all City residents a washable and reusable face mask on request without charge. Further details and logistics on the program are to be determined.

After today’s vote, Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa sent the following statement:

“Today I voted with my Common Council colleagues in unanimously approving the MKE Cares ordinance, a citywide mandatory masking policy covering indoor public spaces and outdoor public spaces (under certain conditions).

“I believe the MKE Cares ordinance will help us slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and will increase the chances of keeping more Milwaukee adults, children and families from being infected. All residents age three and older will be covered by the ordinance, which I believe will help save lives in our city.

“Today the Council also unanimously approved a measure that will provide a face mask at no charge to every resident of Milwaukee. The details of how free masks will be distributed will be announced soon and I will share that information when it becomes available.

“The support for the MKE Cares ordinance has been overwhelming and includes hundreds of business owners who co-signed a letter of support, more than 12,000 people adding their names to a petition, our local healthcare providers voicing their support for mask wearing, and numerous other health professionals who have acknowledged that masks can help save lives.

“An online system to receive e-comments on the MKE Cares ordinance (via the Public Safety and Health Committee) to date has received 864 comments in support, 587 in opposition and 18 neutral.

“I want to thank the author of the MKE Cares ordinance – my colleague Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic – as well as the rest of my colleagues in giving this important legislation a unanimous vote of approval.”

For full copies and details on the legislation from Monday afternoon, click here. And stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for more details and updates as they become available.

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