Gov. Evers Issues Statewide Mask Mandate: Here’s What You Need To Know

July 31, 2020

On July 30, Governor Evers issued a new emergency declaration order to address a “new and concerning spike in infections” of the coronavirus in Wisconsin. Under that Executive Order, Evers also issued Emergency Order #1, which requires all people aged 5 and older to wear masks in indoor and “enclosed spaces.”

Here’s what you need to know about the new statewide mask order:

  • People are required to wear masks in any indoor place open to the public and in any “enclosed space.” Under the order, an “enclosed space” where a mask will be required to be worn includes “outdoor bars, outdoor restaurants and outdoor park structures.” These places also include public transportation and ride-share services like Uber and Lyft.
  • People can remove their masks when they are eating or drinking; communicating with someone with hearing problems; receiving a service, like having photos taken for an ID; swimming; or giving a speech (as long as the speaker is at least 6 feet away from their viewers). People may also remove their masks in situations when wearing a mask would be a hazard; when your identity needs to be confirmed; when federal law prohibits mask wearing; and when sleeping.
  • People are exempt if they have a disorder or condition that prevents them from wearing a mask; if they cannot remove the mask by themselves; if they have “trouble breathing”; if they are below the age of 5; and if they are incarcerated.
  • The State Legislature and the Supreme Court are exempt from the order.
  • Violators of the order can be fined $200 under Wis. Stat. § 323.28.

The order goes into effect at 12:01 AM on August 1, 2020, and expires on September 28, 2020.

After the emergency order was released, many legislators expressed approval and disapproval for the order. Below is a collection of some of those reactions.

Speaker Vos (R-Rochester): “Local governments have been responding appropriately and increasing precautionary measures as needed. But Wisconsin shouldn’t have a one-size-fits-all mandate. It doesn’t build public support when there are questions surrounding the metrics and the constitutionality of this mandate. It’s disappointing that yet again Governor Evers has chosen to not communicate or work with the legislature. There are certainly constitutional questions here; I would expect legal challenges from citizen groups.”

Senator Nass (R-Whitewater): “Governor Evers actions today are nothing more than a political stunt to create a partisan fight with the Legislature. This is not about improving public health. Today’s emergency declaration is all about the November election and the weak performance of Democrats in this state. Since March, the actions of Governor Evers and Secretary-Designee Palm have solidified both of them as the two least trustful people that have served in state government in my entire time in the Legislature. I can’t legally or morally trust either of these individuals with emergency powers.”

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley: “I agree with Governor Evers’ statewide approach to getting Wisconsin, and Milwaukee County, back on track to fully reopening safely. For places like Milwaukee County, where there is no health department and no authority to implement measures like a countywide mask mandate, orders that vary from each municipality serve as a detriment in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.”

Rep. Horlacher (R-Mukwonago): “Wearing a mask is a personal choice. It is simply not the government’s role to tell you to wear a piece of fabric. Businesses that wish to require masks at their establishments are free do to so on their private property. Furthermore, there is no empirical evidence that cloth masks, which are what the majority of people are wearing, are actually having a positive impact.
The timing of this mandate is highly suspect. In this purely political move Gov. Evers has waited to enforce his mandate until the day after a conservative justice leaves the bench of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Finally, I have great concern about the enforcement of this mandate. This type of policy will only turn neighbor against neighbor… I am irate at the state of affairs in Wisconsin today and I call on Wisconsinites across the state to reach out to their elected officials.”

Rep. Hintz (D-Oshkosh): “I recognize that wearing a mask takes some getting used to, but if we want to save lives, keep our economy open and maintain the hope of in-person school this fall, it is a pretty small sacrifice to make.”

Sen. Wanggaard (R-Racine): “At a time when liberals across Wisconsin are trying to prevent arrests and fines for actual crimes committed, the last thing law enforcement needs to do is enforce mask wearing. It is the definition of misplaced priorities. This is especially true given the under-reporting of negative cases in at least two counties with high infection rates. I can understand why some businesses are requiring masks. That is their choice, just as it is my choice to do business elsewhere. That’s what America is about. But no one is going to make me wear a mask in my house, or walking my dog. That is also what America is about – free choice.”