TREMPEAULEAU COUNTY (WQOW) - When Governor Evers first enacted a statewide mask mandate, several Wisconsin county officials, including the Trempealeau Sheriff's Department, announced they would not be enforcing the mandate. Now that the order is extended, will they enforce it this time?
Trempealeau County Sheriff Brett Semingson said no. He said it's not due to personal beliefs, but rather, the language of the mandate and the authority it does and does not enable.
"In the Safer-at-Home order that was issued back in March, there was a specific provision for law enforcement to enforce a health order, but in the mask mandate that provision did not exist," Semingson said. "And therefore, most of, if not all, sheriffs didn't have the authority or chose not to enforce it. The extension of the order would simply be that, an extension of the health order, and I'd assume any enforcement would have to come from the health department."
Semingson added that while he tries to avoid large stores, restaurants and other public spaces, to the best of his knowledge, most residents of Trempealeau County have been wearing masks, regardless of the lack of official enforcement.
On Wednesday, the Trempealeau County Health Department issued a health advisory requiring face coverings.
The order takes effect on November 21 and goes until January 21, 2021.
The order requires that every person in the county age five and older wear a face covering when:
- In any enclosed building where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, are present;
- In line to enter any enclosed building;
- Driving or riding in any vehicle where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, are present;
- Outdoors at a public place where 6-foot physical distancing cannot be maintained.
There are exceptions to the mask requirement as outlined below.
- While eating or drinking;
- When communicating with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing and communication cannot be achieved through other means;
- While obtaining a service that requires the temporary removal of the face covering, such as dental services or healthcare;
- While sleeping;
- While swimming or on duty as a lifeguard;
- When engaging in work where wearing a face covering would create a risk to the individual, as determined by government safety guidelines;
- When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity, including when entering a financial institution;
- When federal or state law or regulations prohibit wearing a face covering.
The following individuals are exempt from the face covering requirement under of this Order:
- Children under the age of 5;
- Individuals who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering
- Individuals with medical conditions, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health
conditions, or other sensory sensitivities that prevent the individual from wearing a face coverings.
The sheriff will not be enforcing that order either.