Today, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared a Public Health Emergency and issued an Emergency Order requiring individuals to wear face coverings. This Emergency Order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 1, 2020 and will expire on September 28, 2020, unless there is a subsequent superseding emergency order.
The Emergency Order applies to all individuals over the age of five when they are indoors or in an enclosed space with anyone outside of their household, other than when inside a private residence. “Enclosed space” is defined in the Emergency Order 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.” Additional guidance included in the Face Covering FAQs states that, even if individuals can socially distance indoors, unless that person is the only person in the room, a face covering must be worn and that the Emergency Order requires face coverings inside businesses and office spaces, unless an exception applies. Exceptions to the face covering requirement include, among other things, the following:
- when an individual is eating, drinking, or swimming;
- when an individual is obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering, such as dental services; and
- individuals with health conditions or disabilities that would preclude safely wearing a face mask.
Therefore, the Emergency Order will require employees to wear face coverings in most workspaces, unless the employee is in a room and is the only person in that room.
The Emergency Order supersedes local orders that are less restrictive, but those that are more restrictive than the Emergency Order, like that issued by the City of Milwaukee, are not superseded and remain in force. Therefore, it is important to check local guidelines to ensure that all requirements are complied with. The Emergency Order will be enforced by local and state officials, and the penalty for violation of the Emergency Order is a fine of not more than $200.
O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing remains open during this time. We encourage you to reach out with any questions, concerns, or legal issues you may have, including those related to COVID-19.