The South Milwaukee Common Council voted 5-3 Wednesday in support of a resolution encouraging mask wearing as a pandemic public health measure, and publicly supporting businesses and others who choose to enact their own mask mandates.
You can read the full resolution here.
To be clear, this is not a citywide mandate, although masking will continue to be required in city buildings and with city employees. No ordinance requiring masks was considered at the meeting.
I support the resolution, which stated …
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee:
(1) hereby recognizes the importance of mask-wearing in limiting the transmission of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (referred to in this resolution as COVID–19);
(2) hereby recognizes that medical-grade masks should be reserved for use in health care settings and among vulnerable populations throughout the COVID–19 pandemic;
(3) hereby recognizes that mask-wearing should be coupled with other measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State and local public health agencies, including frequent handwashing and physical distancing, to further reduce the risk of COVID–19 transmission; and
(4) hereby encourages the residents of the City of South Milwaukee to wear masks in indoor public places, in accordance with the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at times when physical distancing is not allowable to protect against unknown transmission of COVID–19.
(5) hereby encourages businesses within the City of South Milwaukee to adopt mask requirements and pledges to support the enforcement of such requirements
The council could have gone further in passing a citywide mandate, and handful of other communities in the county have one in place. But this was a reasonable approach, and farther than many communities in the state have gone. Concerns over enforcing such a local ban are among the numerous challenges with a mandate, and I recognize that. This has to be more than passing an ordinance to pass an ordinance.
Still, I am especially happy to see the language on supporting local businesses in this resolution. We need to stand behind those who choose to enact their own mask mandates, and we will, through enforcement where necessasry. South Milwaukee Police Chief William Jessup and City Attorney Chris Smith addressed what that might look like at the meeting.
In the end, slowing the spread of the virus and limiting outbreaks in many regards comes down to personal responsibility, which it always has. No resolution or ordinance changes that.
So please wear a mask not because the council resolved it so, but because, when combined with other safety measures, it’s a small but real step we can all take to see us through to a return normal, whatever that is post-COVID.
Speaking of a return to normal …
The council also discussed the prospect of large-scale public events amid the pandemic, especially the future of our July 4th celebration this summer. No decisions were made, and it will be a topic for future meetings, as we explore how to safely proceed, or not, with what at this point would be a fireworks-only event at Grant Park.
Organizers of other large community events are wrestling with the same decisions, and I am confident they will put public health guidance first in determining how to proceed this summer. We certainly will.