Evers orders indoor mask-wearing statewide.

The emergency order mandates Wisconsinites to wear a face-covering while inside buildings with people outside their immediate household that are not private residences. Graphic: Sam Buisman

Author: Sam Buisman

Governor Tony Evers orders Wisconsinites statewide to wear a mask while indoors. 

On Thursday afternoon, the Governor issued an emergency order requiring almost all Wisconsinites to wear a face-covering while inside non-residential buildings with persons outside of their household. The order goes into effect over all of Wisconsin on Saturday, Aug. 1, and is punishable by a fine of up to $200. 

Governor Evers justified this order in a press release as necessary to reverse the upswing of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin.

“While our local health departments have been doing a heck of a job responding to this pandemic in our communities,” said Evers, “the fact of the matter is, this virus doesn’t care about any town, city, or county boundary, and we need a statewide approach to get Wisconsin back on track.”

The order includes exceptions for persons who have trouble breathing, other physical disabilities or mental disabilities that would prevent them from wearing a mask. Children under the age of two are also exempt, while children ages two to five are encouraged to wear a mask. 

State Republicans criticized the order as overbroad and an overreach of government power. 

In a statement reacting to the order, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos encouraged legal action against it.

“It’s disappointing that yet again Governor Evers has chosen to not communicate or work with the legislature,” wrote Vos. “There are certainly constitutional questions here; I would expect legal challenges from citizen groups.” 

The Governor’s order comes as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state continues to shoot up. According to the Department of Health Services, Wisconsin confirmed an average of 887 cases per day last week, with the state’s total now amassing to 52,108 cases. 

Before the Governor issued this order, analytics firm WalletHub rated Wisconsin as having the second-fewest coronavirus restrictions in the country.

The order specifies that local governments may still issue more restrictive masking orders. Thus, Dane County’s order requiring indoor masks even in private residences is still in effect.