Eau Claire County mask ordinance discussion

Local News

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – With the governor’s mask order set to expire next week, Eau Claire County Administrators are getting ready to pass their own ordinance if the statewide mandate is not extended. First News at Nine’s Jonathan Fortier has more from county officials on what that order could look like.

“We are in the middle of a public health emergency. People are dying from this, people are in our intensive care units, our hospitals are filling up,” said Nick Smiar of the Eau Claire County Board.

As COVID-19 continues to surge in the state, Eau Claire County administrators are taking steps to slow the spread.

“I refer to this ordinance as a just in case ordinance. It’s to replace the governor’s ordinance if something should happen to it,” said Smiar.

On Tuesday, representatives from the county voted unanimously to move forward with the process of passing a county-level mask ordinance if Evers does not extend the state mandate.

“It’s not going to look or feel any different than the way it is now,” said Smiar.

The ordinance includes a $200 fine for individuals found not in compliance, which Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese says would be enforced by the health department.

“Document that violation and move forward with the recommendation for citation, we would not use law enforcement in these circumstances,” Giese said.

During the public comment session, community member Kyle Woodman said wearing a mask should be up to each individual.

“We don’t need to go around and force everyone to wear a mask if they don’t feel it’s necessary for their health, I think their health is their responsibility.”

While the idea of a mask mandate may upset some, Smiar says it is something people will get used to just like they got used to wearing seatbelts after a law was passed in 1968.

Smiar said, “Back when the seatbelts came in, it was very similar. The government can’t tell me what to do and if I think it’s good, I’ll choose to do it, but then we passed the law.”

Health experts say it’s about protecting ourselves and those around us.

In Eau Claire, Jonathan Fortier, First News at Nine.

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