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Masks will be mandatory in indoor public spaces starting on Saturday.

Gov. Evers issues statewide mask mandate

Gov. Tony Evers today declared a Public Health Emergency due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and, in the process, issued a separate executive order requiring masks when indoors with others and not in a private residence.

The order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1 – which is also the same day newly elected Judge Jill Karofsky will officially join the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The mandate will expire on Sept. 28, 2020, unless superseded by a new order.

The statewide mask mandate requires all Wisconsin residents aged 5 and older to wear a face covering when they are indoors or in an enclosed space, other than a private residence, with people outside their household or living unit. As for outdoors, masks are merely "strongly recommended" when social distancing is not possible.

The mandate lists several exceptions to the requirement, stating that people may remove their masks while eating or drinking, communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, sleeping, swimming or other health-related reasons.

Those caught violating the mandate may be fined up to $200.

"While our local health departments have been doing a heck of a job responding to this pandemic in our communities, the fact of the matter is, this virus doesn't care about any town, city or county boundary, and we need a statewide approach to get Wisconsin back on track," said Gov. Evers, in a release.

"We've said all along that we're going to let science and public health experts be our guide in responding to this pandemic, and we know that masks and face coverings will save lives. While I know emotions are high when it comes to wearing face coverings in public, my job as governor is to put people first and to do what's best for the people of our state, so that's what I am going to do."

The mandate is announced after cases have spiked in Wisconsin throughout the month of July, and as almost all surrounding states (save for Iowa) have implemented their own statewide mask requirements. (A majority of states have currently passed mask mandates.) Earlier this week Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also added Wisconsin to the list of states from which visitors must quarantine for 14 days when visiting that city. Anyone who has had been in Wisconsin, regardless of where they reside, is required to quarantine.

Several cities – including Milwaukee – have installed their own mask mandates, along with several local and national businesses, to fight the pandemic.

Wisconsin Republicans – who previously took Gov. Evers and his "Safer at Home" order to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which struck down the order in the middle of May – began to speak out shortly after the mandate's announcement, including House Speaker Robin Vos. No Supreme Court challenge similar to May, however, has been put forward yet.

Click here to read the Public Health Emergency declaration, and click here to read the entire executive order mandating masks statewide. There is also an FAQ available.

For more information and updates, stay tuned to OnMilwaukee.

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