MILWAUKEE — The City of Milwaukee’s mask ordinance officially began Thursday and city leaders say it will remain in effect until community spread of coronavirus is under control.
Everyone 3 years or older is required to wear masks inside public buildings and whenever they’re within 6 feet of others outside. Imani Ray believes it’s a sign of respect.
“If you don’t do it for yourself if you could do it for those around you just to make sure those around you are safe,” Ray said.
Mayor Tom Barrett said he didn’t enjoy signing the ordinance into law to make Milwaukee the first city in Wisconsin to require masks at public spaces inside and outside. Dane County and Shorewood have indoor mask mandates.
“This is an indication of just how serious the COVID-19 pandemic remains in Wisconsin and remains in Milwaukee,” Barrett said.
Businesses are responsible for making sure their customers and employees are wearing masks inside public buildings. If not, they could be fined up to $500 by Milwaukee’s Health Department and at risk of losing their business license.
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Stack’d Burger Bar owner Trevor Danielsen considers the mandate another hurdle for the struggling restaurant industry.
“There’s no end date,” he said. “Is this going to go on another six months, because if it is, it’s a slow death for every restaurant out there.”
Paul Bartolotta with Bartolotta Restaurants argues otherwise. He believes the mask requirement should have started 6 to 8 weeks ago.
“This is a virus so, in order for us to get it under control, we need to use the defenses we have,” Bartolotta said.
People are allowed to take their masks off when they’re eating or drinking inside bars and restaurants, but that’s not the case for people working out in gyms. Alyssa Aschaker found it to be quite the challenge.
“It wasn’t my favorite thing that I’ve ever done I would say,” said Aschaker. “It’s really hard to do cardio, it’s hard to breathe mostly but at the end of the day you have to do your part.”
People who are outside and close to others are expected to self-enforce the mask policy. Milwaukee police will not have any role in the enforcement of the ordinance.
Some exceptions to the ordinance include not being able to wear face coverings for medical or religious reasons.