On Thursday, February 4, 2021, the Wisconsin State Assembly (“Assembly”) voted on a resolution to repeal the mask mandate. This vote came a week after the Wisconsin State Senate (“Senate”) voted on the same resolution to repeal the mask mandate. The same statute that gives the Governor power to create executive orders, also allows the Senate and the Assembly to repeal the orders by simple majority vote in each chamber.
Republican lawmakers argued that Governor Evers exceeded his authority by issuing multiple emergency declarations during the pandemic which has allowed him to extend the mask mandate beyond the 60 days allowed under the law. Thus, through the majority vote in both the Assembly and the Senate, they repealed the mask mandate.
Following the vote from the Assembly, Governor Evers issued Executive Order #105 (“Executive Order”). The Executive Order declared a new public health emergency for the State of Wisconsin in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, Governor Evers issued Emergency Order #1 (“Emergency Order”) “Relating to Stopping the Spread of COVID-19 by Requiring Face Coverings.”
While this Emergency Order is new, it has no material change from the mask mandate order Governor Evers issued on July 30 (check out our blog post outlining the initial Order covered). Governor Evers argues the changing nature of the pandemic and the ongoing response has given him the authority for the emergency declarations.
Both the Executive Order and the Emergency Order were effective immediately. The public health emergency will remain in effect for 60 days (April 5), or until it is revoked by Governor Evers or a joint resolution of the Wisconsin State Legislature. The mask mandate shall expire on March 20, 2021, or by a subsequent superseding emergency order.