MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Common Council has approved an indoor mask mandate lasting through March 1, sending the ordinance to Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson for approval.
"I anticipate signing it when it does reach my desk," said Johnson.
The mandate applies to any person over 3 years old who enters a building open to the public. The ordinance passed with 12 Council members in favor and one against, with one abstaining.
The last time Milwaukee had a mask ordinance, businesses were fined up to $500 for not complying. This time around, there will not be financial penalties. Instead, a business could get its license suspended or even pulled.
"This is yet another tool that can help reduce the indoor transmission. That's the goal here. We know that's where the virus spreads rapidly and wildly," said Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic.
The ordinance states that the mandate will go into effect when the rate of transmission of the COVID-19 virus is equal to or greater than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in Milwaukee County.
Currently, the City of Milwaukee Health Department has seen more than 1,300 positive cases of COVID per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 28%.
"At the moment, however, we still remain at a time of critical transmission, critical disease burden, and critical health system capacity," said Dr. Ben Weston, chief health policy advisor for Milwaukee County.
Health experts recommend wearing an N95 or KN95 mask while indoors to provide the highest level of protection.
And while this is one step in fighting the pandemic, city officials say they're still focused on increasing vaccination rates.
"While masking is great and we have an advisory in place and that is essentially what this is on paper already we should be pushing people towards education and vaccinations," said Johnson.
Milwaukee ended its previous mask mandate on June 1 of 2021. The expiration of that order also included capacity limits. Tuesday's ordinance makes no mention of capacity limits.
This is a developing story and will be updated.