Eau Claire City and County approve mask ordinance | WisCommunity

Eau Claire City and County approve mask ordinance

February 2, 2021 - 4:22pm
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Update -- After a long hearing in which 16 people spoke against the new mask ordinance and 10 spoke against it, the Eau Claire City Council approved the mask ordinance 13-0. 3,195 people responded to a survey put out by the city recently and of those respondents 59% favored the mask mandate and 41% asked to not have it implemented.

In a separate vote the County Board also approved an identical mask ordinance in a 24-4 vote with board members Mark Beckfield, Gary Gibson, Carl Antoon, and Dane Zook voting against the ordinance.

 As litigation continues on the state-wide mask mandate imposed by Governor Evers, and the state legislature continues to attempt to override the state mandate, cities and counties throughout the state are considering their options. The city and county of Eau Claire have both had a mask ordinance under consideration, but the timeline for this ordinance has been moved up out of concern that the state mandate will be overturned soon.

The ordinance has had a first reading both at the county and city levels, and both governments have solicited input from constituents. Both the city and the county are now planning on voting on the ordinances on Tuesday, Feb. 2. This is a week earlier than the original plan for the city, and essentially two weeks earlier for the city. 

The city council is holding a public hearing on Tuesday Feb. 2 at 4 PM and intends to vote on the ordinance after the public hearing. The hearing will be held on-line on the Webex platform and speakers will be given three minutes to speak on the ordinance. The ordinance would require the wearing of masks for everyone age 5 or older in public places and would be in effect until June 30. People with breathing difficulties would be exempted from the ordinance and masks would not be required when eating, drinking, sleeping, swimming or speaking to an audience. Violations of the ordinance would be subject to a $200 fine. The meeting can be accessed at https://eauclairewi.webex.com/eauclairewi/onstage/g.php?MTID=ea463df8f82... . Comments may also be made prior to the hearing at https://www.eauclairewi.gov/government/our-divisions/city-manager/propos... .

The county will consider the identical ordinance for the full county and will also vote on Tuesday Feb. 2 at a special 7 PM meeting.  Comments on the county ordinance may be made before the board meeting at https://www.co.eau-claire.wi.us/Home/Components/FormBuilder/FormBuilder/... . The county meeting will be live-streamed on the county's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/EauClaireCounty .

Both of the ordinances are set to only go into effect if the state mask mandate is removed either through the courts or by the state legislature. 

The board packets (including the ordinance) are both attached below.

Steve Hanson
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