Milwaukee Common Council to vote on mask mandate Tuesday

NOW: Milwaukee Common Council to vote on mask mandate Tuesday

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The city of Milwaukee could be facing another mask requirement with Alderwomen JoCasta Zamarippa and Marina Dimitrijevic authoring a piece of legislation that would require people over the age of three to wear a mask when at indoor, public settings.

"I feel very good with the support of the commissioner of health, Kirsten Johnson," Alderwoman Zamarippa said. "We have worked very closely to put together a piece of compromised legislation, a mask ordinance that I think will benefit the city of Milwaukee and that I think is palatable for our health department that has to enforce it for us."

The ordinance passed the Public Safety and Health Committee on Jan. 7 with three 'yes' votes, nobody voting against it and two abstaining.

At that meeting, Johnson voiced her support of an indoor mask mandate.

"I think we should absolutely have an indoor mask ordinance," Johnson said. "I think making a requirement, the majority of people will follow."

One topic brought up regarding the ordinance is how it will be enforced. Alderwoman Zamarippa says it will be different compared to the Moving Milwaukee Forward initiative.

"There isn't a monetary citation with this ordinance as there has been in the past," Zamarippa said. "Rather, it's tied to licensing so that when a business goes before licensing for their renewal, if they were a bad actor when it came to the mask policy, it could affect their potential to get renewed. They could get suspended, they could get a warning letter; there's a variety of those types of things that they would have to stand up against if they got dinged for not enforcing our mask policy."

Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson tells CBS 58 that he is continuing to pay attention to the ordinance.

"We need to push vaccines because that's the most effective tool that we have against Covid, not masks," acting Mayor Johnson said. "It's got to be done in a right way so to not be punitive, to be more educational, and it's got to have the support of the health department. If anything comes to me, I'll be looking to make sure that it has all those elements."

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce responded to the possibility of a mask ordinance in a statement, saying:

"Masks (especially those of N95 quality) are part of the protection protocols that can help stop the spread. Many Milwaukee region employers, public-facing venues and educational institutions have implemented mask requirements. However, an unenforceable mask mandate shifts the burden of convincing people to wear masks to the business community and its front-line employees. It requires employees to act as the 'mask police.'

The Common Council meeting is set to take place virtually at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18.

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