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Eau Claire City Council & County Board pass ordinances creating a mask mandate

Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 7:05 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Eau Claire County Board and the Eau Claire City Council each passed an ordinance Tuesday night to create a mask mandate in the City of Eau Claire and Eau Claire County.

The Eau Claire County Board voted 24 to 4 Tuesday night in favor of its ordinance for a mask mandate in Eau Claire County.

The board members who voted in favor include Sandra Mckinney, Joe Knight, Stella Pagonis, Kevin Stelljes, Donald Mowry, Nancy Coffey, Ray L. Henning, Colleen A. Bates, Connie Russell, Judy Gatlin, Nick Smiar, Chris Hambush-Boyle, Martha Nieman, James A. Dunning, Gerald “Jerry” Wilkie, Nathan Anderson, Katherine Schneider, Robin Leary, Heather Deluka, Melissa Janssen, Tami Schraufnagel, Zoe Roberts, Kimberly Cronk and Missy Christopherson. The board members who voted down the ordinance include Mark Beckfield, Gary Gibson, Carl Antoon, and Dane Zook. Board member Steve Chilson was not present.

The Eau Claire City Council voted unanimously pass its ordinance creating a mask mandate for the City of Eau Claire.

“When we are talking about life or death, for me, it was important to hear what the facts are and what science says we need to do to protect our community,” says City Council Member Kate Beaton.

Before the 11-0 vote, dozens of community members spoke in support and in opposition of the mandate.

“The public input that we received was really helpful ultimately, it helps back up what the science is telling us,” says City Council Member Jeremy Gragert.

“Protecting the public is not a debatable issue, science drives it and local government is charged with supporting it in the best interest of promoting healthy communities,” says community member Susan Wolfgram.

Those that spoke in opposition said the decision should be up to them if they want to wear a mask or not, with one even threatening lawsuits against the city if the ordinance was passed.

Beaton says some people may be frustrated by the decision, but says everyone in the the community needs to come together to protect our neighbors and slow the spread.

“There’s a lot of uniting that needs to happen,” she says. “The health department will continue to educate people and bring them into the conversation rather than pushing them away.”

Both ordinances would go into effect only if the statewide mandate were to be repealed. Under the ordinances, people who are not exempt will be required to wear masks inside public places or they risk a $200 fine. These ordinances would be in effect until June 30.

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