Outagamie County, Appleton ease face mask requirements

Published: May. 13, 2021 at 5:19 PM CDT|Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 2:25 PM CDT
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UPDATED to include mask requirement by Valley Transit

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Outagamie County announced it’s lifting its face mask requirement Thursday, hours after the CDC issued new recommendations for people who are vaccinated against COVID-19. The City of Appleton, which has its own health department, followed suit on Friday.

A proclamation from Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford urges people in the city to follow the updated CDC guidelines which say fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear coverings except in some circumstances, such as in crowded situations, public transportation, homeless shelters, jails and prisons.

The county enacted a face covering ordinance after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the statewide mandate. The ordinance was in effect countywide except in Appleton and Oneida tribal territory, which have their own health departments.

Both the county and the city acknowledge businesses, schools and workplaces can still set their own face covering requirements, and people will be expected to abide by them.

Valley Transit, for one, advises masks are still required on public transit and in their transportation hubs. It expects to keep that requirement until mid-September.

“If you’re in a setting, perhaps a crowded area, and you don’t feel safe and you want to wear a mask, you should absolutely mask,” said Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson. “When in doubt, continue to take those precautions, but above all, this is a really good reason for everyone to go out and get vaccinated.”

The City of Oshkosh called a special council meeting Friday to discuss its face mask ordinance which the common council approved on March 9 meeting in response to the legal challenge against the statewide mandate. Oshkosh’s ordinance included exceptions allowing schools and state and federal offices in the city to set their own rules. Citizens can register to speak at the meeting, which will be conducted online (click here).

City Manager Mark Rohloff said, “I suspect you will see some members of the public contacting council members that are concerned about the high number of people that still haven’t gotten a vaccination, but I think the council is probably going to consider all of those factors.”

Over the past week some big box stores have relaxed their requirement for a mask, making it more of a request.

Customers remain fairly divided on the issue.

“I haven’t been wearing a mask now for a while. So, no one has approached me. It’s like, I’m done,” said Mary Knoke of Shiocton.

Brian Tennie of Appleton said, “I wish people would still wear them, just because I always worry about the people who aren’t vaccinated. I want to protect everybody. So, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, short period of time you have to wear it.”

Others say they’re fine either way.

Jennifer Stielow of Appleton added, “I guess I usually take the path of least resistance. I’m not concerned about it myself, I’ve been vaccinated, so yeah, if the businesses feel they want masks on, that’s fine.”

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