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Kenosha City Council Okays Mask, Social Distancing Requirements

Nov. 16, 2020 9:45p

(WGTD)---The Kenosha City Council adopted what some described as a "business-friendly" COVID-19 mitigation ordinance Monday night. 

The measure requires social distancing in all public places that are indoors and also requires that masks be worn. The measure that passed 15-2 is absent the 50% capacity limitation that was in an earlier version that had been introduced by Alder Bill Siel.

Siel said he was comfortable with the compromise, as were others who would have preferred the capacity limit.

Violators can be fined up to $250.There are numerous exemptions to the requirements. The Kenosha County Division of Health is authorized to enforce the ordinance, and the police department is empowered to step in if the 'public place' holds a liquor license and a "verified" complaint has been filed.

While many businesses already require masks and social distancing, Siel said he wanted to validate those moves with formal council action.

Alder Dominic Ruffalo was one of two council members who voted against the ordinance. Ruffalo, who said he's still recovering from a confirmed case of the virus, said he believed the county board should implement such a measure instead of the city. "I'm all for wearing masks," he said. "But this doesn't put anybody on an even playing field." Ruffalo represents the western edges of the city where customers who don't like the ordinance can more easily take their business elsewhere.

Dave Paff, the only other council member to vote no, did so on constitutional grounds.

Supporter Dan Prozanski threw cold water on that argument. "Implementing a mask ordinance in the City of Kenosha is to some--and you may never convince them that it's not taking away their rights--but you know what we're protecting the rights of so many others," he said. 

A statewide mask mandate imposed by Gov. Evers is currently hung up at the state supreme court.