Wisconsin mandating masks indoors starting Saturday, Aug. 1

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency Thursday and issued an emergency order requiring individuals to wear face coverings indoors. 

The order goes into effect Saturday, Aug. 1. 

In his executive order declaring a public health emergency, Evers said the data shows a “new and concerning spike” in COVID-19 infections in Wisconsin. 

According to the governor’s order, “the State of Wisconsin has experienced a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the entire state, with 61 of 72 counties (84 percent) representing 96 percent of the state’s population experiencing high COVID-19 activity,” which Evers says is a “dramatic increase from where Wisconsin was in June, when only 19 of 72 counties (26%) were experiencing high COVID-19 activity.” 

Under the emergency order requring face coverings, individuals over the age of 5 are required to wearing a face covering whenever they are indoors or in an enclosed space with anyone who is not a member of their household or living unit. Face coverings are required indoors even if physical distancing can be maintained, unless a person is alone in the space. 

Face coverings are strongly recommended in all other settings, including outdoors when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing.

The order defines an enclosed space as a “confined space open to the public where individuals congregate, including but not limited to outdoor bars, outdoor restaurants, taxis, public transit, ride-share vehicles and outdoor park structures.” 

There are several activities in which individuals are not required to wear a face covering including when eating or drinking, swimming, communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing and working if wearing a face covering poses a safety risk.  

Individuals with medical conditions, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, or other sensory sensitivities that prevent them from wearing a face covering are also exempt from the order.  

The order will expire on Sept. 28 or by a subsequent superseding emergency order.