Gov. Tony Evers issued an emergency order Thursday requiring face covering, or masks, while indoors in public spaces starting Saturday, August 1.

The order will end September 28, or when a subsequent order gets issued. Evers also issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency in Wisconsin.

A press release from the Office of the Governor said rising cases of COVID-19 and the increased prevalence of community spread motivated the orders.

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According to the Department of Health Services, Wisconsin averaged 938 new cases per day of COVID-19 last week, an increase from the first week of July, which averaged 556 new cases per day.

The mask order noted some exceptions. Individuals don’t need to wear a mask while eating or drinking, communicating with someone hard of hearing, swimming, sleeping, receiving dental services or performing select other functions. Children under five and others with select medical conditions don’t have to wear a mask.

The order also encouraged people to wear cloth face coverings, instead of medical-grade masks like N95s, to conserve those supplies for healthcare workers who need them.

“This virus doesn’t care about any town, city or county boundary, and we need a statewide approach to get Wisconsin back on track,” Evers said in the release. “We know that masks and face coverings will save lives. While I know emotions are high when it comes to wearing face coverings in public, my job as governor is to put people first.”

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In the executive order declaring a public health emergency, Evers designated the DHS as the principal entity in charge of responding to the pandemic, and he directed the DHS to
take all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent COVID-19 spread.

Dane County has had a similar mask mandate in place since July 13.