Green Bay, Racine and Superior will soon be among the cities that require masks in businesses and many other public spaces.
All three cities passed ordinances Tuesday night, hours after state health officials announced a single-day record of 1,117 new coronavirus cases.
Green Bay's Common Council approved its ordinance 7 to 5, after several hours of debate. Most of the residents who spoke to the council ahead of the vote opposed the requirement, but Alder Barbara Dorff said the ordinance makes a number of exceptions that should address their concerns.
"It is not required for children under 5. That was a concern expressed to me," she said. "It is not required for people eating or consuming beverages. That was a concern. It’s not required for people with any type of medical condition or disability that would prevent them from wearing a face covering."
Racine's vote to approve a mask requirement was even narrower, passing by just one vote.
The city's attempts to institute new restrictions have run into legal challenges, with critics arguing the restrictions infringe upon individual liberty.
Racine Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox told the council that a mask rule would help avoid future restrictions on businesses and gatherings.
"If we do not utilize the mask ordinance our numbers will continue to grow, as we’re seeing," she said. "Returning to more restrictive conditions would do more economic harm than implementing a mask ordinance."
The city of Superior passed its mask rule 9 to 1 Tuesday night.
Councilor Keith Kern, who voted against the plan, said: "I think if the city council would have adapted a resolution that said we strongly encourage (mask use), I think our citizens and business owners would have done what was prudent to be able to get through and clear this up and get back to business."
Mayor Jim Paine, who backed the new rule, said it was an important part of addressing a "serious public health crisis."
"Thankfully nobody has died in Douglas County from COVID-19," Paine said. "We want to keep it that way."
All three requirements take effect Monday, July 27.