Madeline Island followed Bayfield’s lead in requiring people to wear facemasks in public places, some outdoor locations and commercial businesses when the La Pointe Town Board approved an ordinance at its Tuesday meeting.
Cases of COVID-19 have surged within the past few weeks in Bayfield County, but even before that Madeline Island emergency services volunteers had expressed concern over the health of themselves and their families, and strongly urged the board to pass an ordinance, said Lisa Potswald, town administrator.
A couple of businesses are balking at the mandate, Potswald said, but for the most part the community supports the move.
The ordinance cites the fact that visitors from all over the U.S., including states with higher per-capita rates of COVID-19, visit the island, that the risk of spreading the coronavirus remains high, and that wearing a face mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce person-to-person transmission.
People will be required to wear masks inside any commercial business or town office and in outdoor areas where it’s not possible to social distance. People with certain health conditions, children younger than 5, and restaurant customers are among those who are exempt from the ordinance.
The rule includes a provision to issue citations should masks be ignored.
“It is a fineable offense,” Potswald said.
If businesses do not comply, the town board has the option to withhold licenses when they expire, she said.
Face mask mandates have generated controversy — including threats against Green Bay officials who enacted an ordinance, according to reports — throughout Wisconsin. State officials seem reluctant to order a statewide order, leaving the decision up to individual counties and municipalities.
The Ashland City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to ask the county Health Department to issue a mandate for all locations open to the public via a public health order, even as members prepared to vote on a city-specific ordinance in August.
So far any controversy has been muted in tourist Mecca Bayfield, which enacted its ordinance on July 15. The city has experienced no significant problems, City Clerk Billie Hoopman said.
“I think there are some people who don’t think it’s enough, and some think it’s too much,” Hoopman said.
Pending proper posting, Madeline Island’s ordinance goes into effect for 60 days beginning Sunday.