What some local municipalities plan to do if the statewide mask mandate is overturned

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY (CBS 58) -- Last summer, Shorewood put a local mask ordinance in place. 

On Monday, the village board voted to extend it until at least May 17. 

"We wanted to continue the assurance to the village residents and other individuals that work and come to do their business there for public safety," said Shorewood Village Trustee Tammy Bockhorst. 

Whitefish Bay also has a local ordinance in place. 

"To make sure that if something were to happen with the state ordinance, that we would have something in place in Whitefish Bay," said Jay Saunders, who is on the Whitefish Bay Village Board. 

Shorewood's ordinance says, "The Village will provide appropriate social distancing education if feasible," under the penalty section. 

"There really is no enforcement mechanism, it’s more an educational piece, and that’s not because we don’t want to have that, but we are one municipality of several that’s part of the North Shore Health Department, so we cannot instruct the North Shore Health Department to just Shorewood's bidding," said Bockhorst.

“We chose to not have enforcement, necessarily. For example, there have been headlines in the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Health Department with fines and tickets, citations in certain businesses. We chose not to go that route for a variety of reasons. One of which is we don’t have our own health department. We work very closely with North Shore Health Department, but they are also responsible for several other communities here in the North Shore. We also didn’t think that this was a police issue. There are more important things for our police officers, law enforcement to be doing than to go into individual restaurants or stores and making sure people are wearing their masks," said Saunders, about the Whitefish Bay ordinance. 

That enforcement piece is a reason why Mayor Steve Olson says the city of Franklin won't be imposing a citywide mask mandate. He says it's just not practical. 

"How do you police it? Our police are busy doing other things and our health department’s now busy administering the vaccine, so it’s the responsible thing for our citizens to just continue as they have, wash their hands, wear a mask, socially distance. So, we’re relying on the goodness of our community to carry on."

In July 2020, Mayor Tom Barrett signed a mask mandate into effect. The mandate was passed by the Common Council. 

“Fortunately, the state’s order does not supersede Milwaukee’s order. Our plan is to have our local order in effect until, from a public health perspective, we decide it is safe to lift it. We will not allow the noise of partisan politics to affect the health of the residents of our city," Mayor Barrett said Thursday. 

County Executive David Crowley says his fear is that not enough communities will put a mask mandate in place if the statewide mandate is overturned. 

“Also think it’s going to have an economic effect throughout Milwaukee County. I think it’s going to put some businesses at an advantage and others at a disadvantage, depending on what population they serve and where they’re located," said Crowley, "So I am concerned about this so we’re going to continue to do our due diligence working with all the municipalities and public health officials about what are the next steps if this was to pass.”

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