Wisconsin Mandate Requires Masks at Work, With Certain Exceptions

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on July 30, 2020, issued an Emergency Order (Order) requiring every individual in the state of Wisconsin, age five and older, to wear face coverings when indoors. As discussed below, some exceptions, however, may apply to employees in certain situations.

Specifically, individuals covered by the Order must wear a face covering when:

  • They are indoors or in an enclosed space (as defined in the order), other than a private residence; and
  • Another person or persons who are not members of the individual’s household or living unit are present in the same room or enclosed space.

Employees working alone in an enclosed space, such as a private office, are not required to wear a mask.

The Order’s definition of a “face covering” is broad. A face covering must cover the mouth and nose completely and includes bandanas, cloth masks, disposable or paper masks, neck gaiters and religious face coverings. However, the definition explicitly excludes face shields, mesh masks, masks with holes or openings and masks with vents.

The Order includes numerous exceptions to wearing a face covering, including when an individual is eating or drinking, obtaining a service that requires removal of the covering (i.e., dental services) or removal is necessary to confirm identity.

For employers, a key exception is that individuals may forgo a face covering when engaging in work where wearing a face covering would create a risk to the individual, as determined by government safety guidelines. Employers should also note that individuals with medical conditions, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions or other sensory sensitivities that prevent the individual from wearing a face covering are also exempt under the Order.

The Order goes into effect on Saturday, August 1, 2020, and expires on September 28, 2020.

Employers with questions regarding the Order or other COVID-19 developments should contact Shannon Toole or a member of Reinhart’s Labor and Employment Practice.

Please visit Reinhart’s Coronavirus Resource Center for up-to-date information.


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