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Milwaukee Common Council Unanimously Passes Citywide Mask Requirement

The Milwaukee Common Council voted unanimously Monday to institute a citywide mandatory mask requirement.

Updated Tuesday at 1:29 p.m. CT

The Milwaukee Common Council voted unanimously Monday to institute a citywide mandatory mask requirement.

Under the ordinance, anybody age 3 and older would have to wear a face-covering in buildings open to the public, as well as any outdoor public space when it’s not possible to stay 6 feet away from people who aren’t in the same household. There are exceptions for medical conditions or religious reasons.

The Milwaukee Health Department, not the police, would be in charge of enforcing the ordinance.

Mayor Tom Barrett signed the ordinance on Tuesday. It is expected to take effect on Thursday.

Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic sponsored the ordinance. She says she’s concerned about a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases, and fears it’s going to get worse. Cases in Milwaukee County have topped 14,000.

“Take a look at my face. This is the face of a parent who, like many of you here, is so worried about the next few weeks, I’m not even sure how I feel yet about my children attending Milwaukee Public Schools. It’s no reflection on our school system, but I start with that because it’s what inspired me to move along on this requirement for face coverings,” Dmitrijevic says.

Dimitrijevic says the science is clear that wearing masks helps curb the spread of the coronavirus.

She says the city needs to do everything it can and won’t be sorry it approved the requirement.

“We have Milwaukeeans that have died. We have Wisconsinites that have died, and I think that we could very well regret not doing enough, but I doubt that we will ever look back and regret that we asked people to wear their face coverings,” she says.

Alderman Mark Borkowski voted against the requirement in committee last week. He said at the time, that he had concerns about the outdoor component, calling it troubling. But he said Monday that he has changed his mind, after hearing from constituents who urged him to vote in favor of the mask requirement.

“I am not going to vote no on this. I am not going to dissent on this. I think this is too important for our city,” Borkowski says.

The council on Monday also approved an ordinance that would provide a free mask to Milwaukee residents who need them.

Last week, Public Health Madison and Dane County issued an order requiring masks indoors. It takes effect Monday.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said he was considering a statewide mask mandate, but after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down his safer-at-home order in May, a new one requiring masks to be worn is “unlikely.”

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