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The City of Milwaukee’s Common Council today enacted an ordinance, effective until March 1, 2022, requiring any person above the age of three who is present in the City to possess a face covering from the time the person leaves their residence, and to wear the face covering whenever the person is in a building open to the public. The enactment, which amends current Ordinance § 62-8, can be found here. The ordinance is effective the date after publication.

The following exceptions exist:

  • Persons who, under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance, should not wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or developmental disability, or for whom no other accommodation can be offered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Persons with upper-respiratory chronic conditions or, silent or invisible disabilities, or persons communicating with a deaf or hard of hearing person such that communication cannot otherwise be achieved.
  • Persons in settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear face coverings when obtaining or rendering goods or services, to the extent necessary to obtain or render such goods or services. Examples include performers in rehearsals or performances, during the receipt of dental services or medical treatments, or while consuming food or beverages.
  • Whenever federal, state, or local law otherwise prohibits wearing a face mask, or where it is necessary to evaluate or verify an individual’s identity.
  • Persons whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering.
  • Persons engaged in athletic activities (or cleansing related to them).

The ordinance provides that the owner or operator of any building open to the public “shall ensure all persons present in his or her building open to the public comply” with the mask requirements. The owner or operator “has the right to refuse entry or service to any person for failure to comply…”

The ordinance’s preamble emphasizes that enforcement through education is preferable to enforcement by penalty. In a lessening of prior restrictions, upon a first complaint, the health department may write a letter to the offender and then, on a second complaint at least one week after the first complaint, may follow up with additional outreach including phone or virtual communications. After a third (or additional) complaint, a site visit may occur, with offenses noted to the owner’s file.

If you have any questions regarding the new mask requirements, another COVID-19 issue or any other legal issue, contact your FOS attorney.

Be well.