Ordinance Requiring Face Masks In Milwaukee Public Spaces Heads To Full Common Council

Jul 10, 2020

The Milwaukee Common Council Health and Public Safety Committee on Thursday approved an ordinance to require masks whenever an individual is in public.

The ordinance, now headed to the full council, was introduced by Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic. She says she was spurred into action thinking about her son and his safety. She says the fact that Wisconsin set another single-day high with 754 cases reported on Thursday is troubling. 

“We have just a small amount of time here. We are not doing great, but there are places that are doing worse. And if we continue on this same trajectory, quite frankly, I believe our economy could be shut down again,” Dimitrijevic says. 

>>A User's Guide To Masks: What's Best At Protecting Others (And Yourself)

She says this ordinance requiring face masks in public is being driven by science. 

“Many people all the time, and no one should be ashamed of it, seem to think that the face coverings actually to protect you. The fact is is that it protects others from you. And if more people do it, we will be protected,” Dimitrijevic says. 

The ordinance passed the committee with three people voting in favor, Alderman Khalif Rainey abstaining, and Alderman Mark Borkowski voting against. Borkowski’s concerns had more to do with making the city of Milwaukee an island as the ordinance only applies to businesses in the city instead of the county. Because we are not under an emergency declaration, the Milwaukee health commissioner doesn't have the authority to impose the order in other municipalities. 

“It makes it very, very difficult when across the street is a different municipality and I have to try to explain that we’re not all in this together. We’re not all in this together. And so that’s bothersome, OK,” Borkowski says. 

The ordinance, if passed by the full council, would be enforced by the Milwaukee Health Department and not police. The committee on Thursday also approved an ordinance that would provide a free mask to Milwaukee residents who need them. 

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