Reedsburg area businesses are deciding how to handle the statewide mask mandate issued by Gov. Tony Evers in his latest move to decrease the state’s rising COVID-19 cases.
Evers order, issued July 30, requires everyone 5 and older to wear face coverings in an enclosed public space from Aug. 1 until Sept. 28. The law lists some exceptions for eating and drinking or communicating with a person who is hard of hearing or deaf, according to the order. There are no criminal penalties but those who violate the order could face a $200 fine.
According to a July 31 article in the Wisconsin State Journal, Senate Republicans have voiced wanting to strike down Evers’ mandate though did not mention when legislators could meet to discuss taking legal action.
Viking Village Foods General Manager Pam Coy said her grocery store continues to have signage recommending customers wear masks but not require it, mainly because she understands some people can’t wear masks due to personal and private reasons.
“Everybody has got to start being responsible for themselves and their family,” she said. “We’re not going to stand there (and) be a mask patrol at the door and we are not going to be rude to people.”
Staff at Viking Village Foods have been provided masks and its recommended employees wear them, she said.
“I do have some (staff) that can’t wear them for their reason and I get that,” she said, adding the deli, bakery and processing staff are wearing masks. “There’s a lot of employees wearing them. A vast majority.”
In accordance with CDC guidance, children under the age of 2 do not have to wear a face covering along with individuals who have trouble breathing or those who have medical conditions, intellectual or developmental disabilities or mental health conditions. Documentation does not need to be provided if an underlying condition is present that prevents them from wearing one, according to the frequently asked questions of the face coverings mandate.
Wisconsin joins 31 other states requiring face coverings in public, including Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and New Jersey.
Antiques on Main Owner Sarah Riedel said she will follow the state’s mask mandate. Riedel and her staff will continue to wear their own masks but she also understands reasons why people don’t wear masks, like health issues.
“I’m not going to question them if they come in without one,” Riedel said.
As of July 31, customers are encouraged to wear masks at the shop at 200 E. Main St. Riedel said she’s in agreement with the statewide mask mandate for health reasons and to help control the rising COVID-19 numbers. Her parents have health issues, so she wants to do what she can to minimize the risk.
“In retail, it’s hard too because we want to be as courteous to the customer and I know some people don’t like wearing them (and some) people do and I think it’s just easier if we are all doing the same thing together,” she said.
Main Street Books in Reedsburg has required masks since mid-June, mainly because of the small space inside the book store at 190 E. Main St. The store sells disposable masks to customers and employees wear them, according to owner Dana Westedt.
“People who have a medical issue or decline the mask, I do leave it up to them,” Westedt said. “I’m not going to force them to do anything. But it keeps us all safer if we are wearing the masks.”
Westedt said she hasn’t heard complaints with people wearing a mask inside her store.
Portage residents Sharon and Rick Hovath, both in their 60s, said they are in favor of the statewide mask mandate because of their age, which is shown to be more at risk of catching the coronavirus.
“I don’t want to die at this stage in my life,” Sharon Hovath, who recently retired from her job as a nurse and has some underlying health conditions, said. “These are my golden years. I want to live another 15 years.”
Sharon Hovath said they have worn masks since the pandemic began and have taken other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, such as using hand sanitizer and not seeing their adult children. The Hovaths have a son who works in a county jail in Milwaukee and a daughter working in the medical field.
She hopes the mask mandate will decrease the spread of the virus.
“My hope is everybody cooperates with it and it slows this thing down until they can come up with a cure,” she said.
Wisconsin State Journal reporters Mitchell Schmidt and Riley Vetterkind contributed to this report.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.