MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's Public Safety and Health Committee met Thursday to discuss a citywide mask mandate.
Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic is drafting the "MKE Cares" ordinance, which would require face masks to be worn everywhere in public amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Before Thursday's meeting, 357 people expressed their opinion to city leaders about the policy. 205 people shared support for a mask mandate, 147 people opposed the idea and 7 people shared neutral comments.
"We are dealing with a virus that needs to be brought under control, wearing a mask is the answer," said part of a comment by Janet Heck, who supports a citywide mandate.
"Wearing a mask should be a personal preference for both the individual and the business," said part of a comment by Lynne Trochlil who opposes the idea of a citywide mandate.
Additionally, nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition requesting a face mask policy and more than 70 Milwaukee businesses are asking for a face mask requirement as well.
"If you can wear a mask, you should wear a mask," said Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, the City of Milwaukee's Commissioner of Health. She joined the meeting to present the facts about face masks.
She said face coverings continue to be one of the most effective ways to slow and stop the spread of the coronavirus.
She also pointed out, during a presentation, that cities nationwide have adopted face mask policies and that Wisconsin is one of only three states that does not currently require or recommend people to wear face masks while in public.
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Alderman Mark Borkowski was concerned about what the final policy would look like, saying that it could be hard to get people to wear them while outside, especially while exercising.
"I just think the whole outside thing is really, really difficult," said Ald. Borkowski.
Alderman Scott Spiker also raised concerns about enforcement, saying it's important that the public buys into the idea of face masks with or without the policy in place.
"I do have some concerns relating to enforcement," said Ald. Spiker.
Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic is writing the ordinance. She said details of enforcement have not yet been finalized. The city attorney's office and the health department are both working to monitor best practices nationwide.
The MKE Cares ordinance is expected to be introduced to the full Common Council on Tuesday, July 7. It's unclear when the ordinance could be voted on.