Green Bay Alder proposes mask ordinance

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 10:39 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin is one of four states across the country without any type of face mask requirement for people out in public. That’s according to #Masks4all, an organization dedicated to requiring masks in communities across the country.

Now, one Green Bay alderman is hoping to change that, at least in the city.

“I’m very worried about it; I almost wasn’t willing to open up the city,” said Alder Randy Scannell.

Scannell has been adamant about keeping his distance and wearing a mask in public. Now he’s proposing a city ordinance to make sure everyone is doing the same.

“By making this ordinance I’m hoping we can have everybody wearing masks, following good sound medical advice and we can open up and stay open,” said Scannell.

Implementing and enforcing these rules isn’t as simple. It’s something lawyers with the Wisconsin Counties Association have been grappling with for months.

“I can tell you in Wisconsin that the question of whether a county or municipality has the power to enforce a masking requirement for the public at large depends highly on the circumstances,” said Andy Phillips, attorney with von Briesen & Roper Law Firm.

Phillips serves as outside general counsel for the Wisconsin Counties Association. He is also part of a COVID-19 task force within the firm. The group is working on comprehensive guidelines for local governments to understand what authority they have under current state and local statutes.

“We’re seeing that there are some gaps in the terms of the statutory frame work, there are some gaps in terms of the body of law that talks about the extent of health officer authority; both at the state level and the local level,” said Phillips.

The task force has been watching the lawsuit between the City of Racine and Crossfit Gym over the city’s coronavirus ordinance.

“That’s going to help inform the work of counties association and counties around the state in making a determination of, again, where are the boundaries in terms of what counties are able under the law to do and what are they not able to do,” said Phillips.

On Wednesday, a Racine County Circuit Court Judge ruled Racine’s plan violated the state’s constitution. Click here to read the Associated Press article.

Alder Scannell is hopeful Green Bay can work out an ordinance aimed to keep everyone safe.

“There’s lots of limits that we as government say, for public safety, these are the laws. So I think it would be irresponsible of the city not to do that,” said Scannell.

The ordinance will be taken up at a city committee meeting on July 13.

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