Supreme Court of Wisconsin Ends State Mask Mandate on March 31

Ruder Ware

Yesterday, March 31, 2021, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ended the state-wide mask mandate after finding Executive Order (EO) #105 to be unlawful, ending it immediately. Governor Tony Evers issued EO #105 shortly after the Wisconsin Legislature revoked EO #104.

This decision also blocks Governor Evers from issuing further emergency orders under Wis. Stat. § 323.10 associated with the COVID-19 pandemic without the Legislature’s approval. The Court also notes that “all executive actions and orders issued pursuant to the powers triggered by the emergency declaration [EO #105] are likewise void.” The scope and impact of that is unclear, but EO #105 was scheduled to expire on April 5.

The Court found the COVID-19 illness caused by the novel Coronavirus to be a single, continuous enabling condition under the statute to date, and the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in EO #72 (issued March 12, 2020) to be the only one lawfully declared as the others were impermissibly extended “in violation of the time limitations explicit in the statute.”

This does not impact mask mandates or similar measures by local governments, counties, cities, villages, etc., so reviewing those requirements may be necessary.

If you are outside a mask mandating area, consider a few elements before taking down the mask signs at the entrance:

  • Your organization’s particular risk factors for viral spread and associated with a change;
  • Federal government agencies (OSHA, DOL, etc.) taking a more active interest in working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Local, state, and federal pandemic guidelines.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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