Face masks

Eau Claire city and county governments will consider a local face mask mandate in January that, if approved, would take effect if a similar statewide order ends.

EAU CLAIRE — A local ordinance requiring people to wear face masks in buildings to prevent spreading COVID-19 is being contemplated with the potential to fine violators.

The Eau Claire city and county governments announced in December that they would be considering adoption of a local policy that would take effect if the current statewide mask mandate is struck down in court or fails to be renewed before it expires on Jan. 19.

The proposed local mask ordinance is scheduled for discussion at a 2:30 p.m. joint meeting on Tuesday of the county's Administration Committee and the Board of Health. That is the proposal's first stop on its journey that would ultimately lead to votes of the County Board and City Council.

A draft of the ordinance included with Tuesday's agenda includes the ability of a local health officer or law enforcement officer to issue $200 citations for individuals who fail to comply with the ordinance.

The ordinance would require all people ages five and older to wear a face covering when in buildings open to the public, which includes businesses. Those buildings will also be required to have a notice posted on their entrances to inform people that wearing masks is required.

The ordinance does have exceptions for wearing a mask for people while they're eating, drinking, getting dental work done or performing work that is unsafe with a face covering. Individuals giving a political or religious speech, educational presentation or artistic performance in front of an audience are also exempted from the mask requirement, if they can keep a six-foot distance from others.

Other exemptions in the policy are included for people with breathing problems, other medical issues or disabilities.