MADISON – Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday issued a new health emergency order requiring face masks in public indoor places just an hour after Wisconsin Republican lawmakers eliminated the same mandate.
GOP lawmakers in the Assembly voted Thursday to repeal the statewide mask rule by ending the governor's health emergency order — the first measure passed by the Legislature in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 10 months.
But Evers put the mask requirement back in place almost immediately, saying he was doing so to avoid unnecessary risk to the public's health. If Evers hadn't acted, the state may have been at risk of losing tens of millions of dollars a month in federal food assistance without an emergency order in place.
"Wearing a mask is the most basic thing we can do to keep each other safe. If the Legislature keeps playing politics and we don’t keep wearing masks, we're going to see more preventable deaths, and it’s going to take even longer to get our state and our economy back on track," he said in a videotaped statement released with the new order.
"Dictator @GovEvers didn't waste any time ignoring the will of the Legislature just like he continues to ignore state statute," Sen. Julian Bradley, R-Franklin, tweeted after the new order was issued.
Republican lawmakers like Bradley who pushed the repeal argue Evers didn't have the authority to issue the order in the first place and that his mandate violates the state constitution — an allegation made in a lawsuit before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.