Yes, Wisconsin’s New COVID-19 Mask Mandate Applies to Indoor Gyms

Getty Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and a gym in another state.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has used his executive order powers to mandate masks or other face coverings statewide in indoor spaces through September 28, 2020. One question a lot of people have is whether people will now have to wear masks or other face coverings to work out at the gym. The answer is yes, if other people are there and the gym is indoors.

Evers has released a face mask FAQ that deals with the question of gyms. Do I need to wear a face covering when I exercise? the FAQ posed the question.

The answer:

It depends on where you are exercising. You do not need to wear a face covering if you are exercising in a private residence or outdoors. For example, you do not need to wear a mask if you are riding your bike on a trail. But you do need to wear a face covering if you are exercising indoors or in an enclosed space and other people are present, such as a gym, a cycling studio, or hotel workout room.

The Wisconsin governor, citing a rise in COVID-19 cases, issued two executive orders on July 30. The first declared a public health emergency, and the second required the wearing or masks or face coverings statewide through September 28. You can read the executive order on masks here. Read the executive order on the public health emergency declaration here. Read the FAQ from the state on wearing masks here.

Why are face coverings being required? The state says:

Cloth face coverings (or face masks) are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and healthcare professionals as an easy way to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. Rates of COVID-19 have significantly increased in Wisconsin as more people return to work and have more interactions in public. Wearing face coverings is the simplest way to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus without requiring people stay in their homes.

Here’s what you need to know:


People Also Need to Wear Masks While Shopping or Riding in Taxis or at Outdoors Restaurants, Unless Eating or Drinking

Evers\’ Executive OrderMaps showing the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.

According to the Evers’ fact sheet, you need to wear a face covering “whenever you are indoors or in an enclosed space, other than a private residence, and other people are present in the same room or space. For example, you must wear a mask while you are shopping in a store or using a taxi.”

You don’t need to wear a mask if you’re at a private residence, outside, or you’re indoors with no one else present.

You can remove the mask:

• When you are eating or drinking.
• When you are communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing and you cannot communicate while
wearing a mask.
• While sleeping (e.g., firefighters sleeping at a fire station).
• While swimming or being on duty as a life guard.
• When you are giving a religious, political, media, educational, artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical
presentation for an audience, so long as you have at least 6 feet between you and other individuals.
• When you are working if wearing a face covering poses a safety risk, as determined by government safety
guidelines or regulations.
• When you need to temporarily remove your face covering to confirm your identify, such as entering a bank,
credit union, or other financial institution or when having to show that you match your identification card when
buying alcohol.
• When engaging in activities where federal or state law or regulations prohibit wearing a face covering.
Do I need to wear a face covering indoors, even if I can physically distance from other people at all times?
Yes, you need to wear a face covering indoors unless you are at a private residence or you’re the only person in the
room.

According to Evers, you don’t need to wear a mask when eating, drinking, or sleeping in indoor places other than your home. But you have to put the face covering back on when you’re done eating or drinking, for example, “while you’re waiting for your table or waiting for a server to come take your order, keep your mask on. This includes outdoor restaurant and bar areas.”


Violating the Order Comes With a Possible $200 Fine

Evers\’ Executive orderA map in Evers’ executive order.

If you have a medical condition preventing you from wearing a face mask, you don’t need to carry documentation. Face shields can’t be worn instead of masks. Masks are required inside businesses and office spaces unless an exception applies. You’re also supposed to wear a face mask if you’re traveling with people from another household.

According to Evers’ fact sheet: “Local and state officials may enforce the order. Violating the order may result in a civil fine up to $200.”

Evers’ executive order says that Wisconsin has “experienced a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the entire state, with 61 of 72 counties (84 percent) representing 96 percent of the state’s population experiencing high COVID-19 activity. This is a dramatic increase from where Wisconsin was in June, when only 19 of 72 counties (26%) were experiencing high COVID-19 activity.”

These are the people listed as exempt in Evers’ executive order:

i. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 are encouraged to wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible. The CDC does not recommend masks for children under the age of 2.
ii. Individuals who have trouble breathing.
iii. Individuals who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
iv. Individuals with medical conditions, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, or other sensory sensitivities that prevent the individual from wearing a face covering.
v. Incarcerated individuals. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections shall continue to comply with COVID-19 protocols to ensure the health and safety of its staff and individuals in its care. Local governments are strongly encouraged to continue or create COVID-19 protocols to ensure the health and safety of their staff and individuals in their care.

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