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Portage County discusses possible mandatory mask ordinance

Ordinance says mandatory masks for people over three years old.
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 10:40 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - The Portage County Health and Human Services Board discussed the possibility of an ordinance that would make it mandatory for anyone over the age of three to wear a mask in public. The meeting gained lots of popularity even before Monday’s 4:30 p.m. start time.

“We had well over 400 emails from a variety of different people,” Portage County Health and Human Services Department director Ray Przybelski said.

Portage County district one supervisor Vincent Miresse was the person who suggested the ordinance in hopes of discussing with the community.

“What would a masked ordinance look like? What measures are we taking as a county government to protect our citizens? I’m really looking to facilitate that discussion,” Miresse added.

Once the public comments started, it didn’t take long to see where the majority stood.

“This discussion on this issue can stop right here, it doesn’t need to go on further,” one community member stated.

Some of the voices that spoke out against the ordinance where small business owners who said the ordinance would hurt an already struggling bar and restaurant industry.

“When and if that ever happens, what you guys do is get your checkbooks out and you get ready to buy my business,” one restaurant owner said.

One of the owners was Portage County Tavern League Vice President Jim Billings who says that his restaurant The Final Score has already lost 60% of its business from last year.

“We’re just a big a part of the fabric of our community as any other business and I think that they need to be fair across the board is looking at that,” Billings explained.

As discussions continue, board members say that they’re glad that so many community members are speaking up.

“I think that it was clear with the comments that most people were against the county looking at some type of ordinance to do this, but I do think it’s important that the county has the discussion,” Przybelski said.

The next time the ordinance will be discussed is for the Executive Operation Committee on August 5.

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