WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. — Whitefish Bay's face mask ordinance was signed into effect on Friday, July 24, according to Village President Julie Siegel.
The new rules require anyone 5-years-old or older to wear a face mask while inside a building open to the public whenever social distancing is not possible.
The new rules will remain in effect until the village's COVID-19 Emergency Declaration expires. Right now, the declaration is set to expire on Oct. 1, but it could be extended if necessary.
The ordinance makes it clear that any business or individual that disobeys the new rules could be fined up to $500.
Whitefish Bay resident Paul Engibous supports the local ordinance.
"I think they’re sincerely interested in doing what’s best for the population," said Engibous when asked what he thinks about the trustees unanimously approving the new rules during a special meeting.
However, when asked if he would support the idea of a statewide mandate, Engibous said he understands the rationale but isn't completely sold on the idea.
"Maybe it should be a suggestion, rather than a mandate," said Engibous.
Village Trustee Jay Saunders, who brought the Whitefish Bay ordinance forward, hopes legislators will draft up statewide face masks requirements. He points out that many other Midwest states already have some rules in place.
"The science shows that it works and it's time to do this statewide because cases are not going down," said Trustee Saunders. He believes a uniform mandate will help to end the confusion surrounding the growing lists of mandates.
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"The one in Whitefish Bay is different than the one in Shorewood than the one in Milwaukee than the one in Glendale," said Saunders.
As for the Whitefish Bay ordinance, Trustee Saunders said enforcement isn't a top priority, despite the $500 citation that could be imposed on anyone refusing to wear a mask when required or any business refusing to enforce the ordinance.
"I don't want the Whitefish Bay Police Department going door-to-door and in stores and checking to see if people have masks on," said Saunders.
Instead, he said the Village Manager will hold businesses accountable if concerns arise and anyone with complaints should contact Village Hall.
Miguel Martinez, a barista at Stone Creek Coffee, is happy to hear about the new face-covering requirements. Stone Creek Coffee already had a face mask policy in place but Martinez says the village's new ordinance will be helpful in helping back the existing rules up.
"I appreciate that very much. I think we're getting a little bit more serious now that the numbers are pumping up," said Martinez.
Meanwhile, Governor Tony Evers has mentioned his interest in exploring the idea of a statewide mask mandate.