Skip to Content
Main Content

MKE Cares - Mask Ordinance FAQ 

- Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. General Mask Questions 
  2. Mask Distribution 
  3. Business 
  4. Resources 
See also: COVID-19 FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

MKE Cares logo face mask

MKE Cares Mask Ordinance
Effective July 16, 2020

 

Free Masks
(households and individuals)

 

1. General Questions - Masks

Open AllClose All
  1. Are masks required in the City of Milwaukee?

Yes. On July 13, 2020, the Milwaukee Common Council adopted an ordinance requiring that all persons wear a face covering in public spaces, indoors and outdoors. The ordinance goes into effect July 16, 2020 and will be enforced throughout the duration of the Moving Milwaukee Forward health and safety order. We are currently in phase 4.1. Please refer to the Order for details specific to each sector (milwaukee.gov/MMFS). This mask policy refers to any person leaving their private dwelling/property to wear a mask at all times, this includes work.   

  2. How do I properly wear a cloth face covering or mask?

All face coverings should:  

  • Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face.  

  • Be secured with ties or ear loops Include multiple layers of fabric.  

  • Allow for breathing without restriction (cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 5, persons who have trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance).  

  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.   

  • Be frequently washed using a washing machine with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. They can also be hand washed with soap and warm water, and left to dry.  

  • After wearing your face mask, you should remove it carefully, avoiding touching your nose, eyes, or mouth until the face covering has been properly disposed of or placed carefully away to be washed.  

  •  You should immediately wash your hands before and after removal.   

  3. How often should I wash my face mask or covering?
  • It is recommended that you wash your face covering once a day by hand or machine using detergent. The face covering should be fully dry before using it again.    

  • Disposable “procedure” masks cannot be washed, but may be used in a 5-7-day rotation to allow viral particles to become non-viable on the outer surface of the mask.  

  4. What if I am unable to wear a mask due to a preexisting health condition or physical or mental disability?

If you are unable to wear a mask due to an underlying health condition, or a physical or mental disability (that prevents you from breathing properly or prohibits you from putting on and taking off your mask properly), please do NOT wear a mask. This includes people who:  

  • Are 2 years old or younger  

  • Have trouble breathing  

  • Are unconscious, incapacitated, or not able to remove the mask without assistance.   

  • If you cannot wear a mask and need or want to go outside or to a place of business, please take important physical distancing precautions:  

  • Maintain a safe separation of at least 6 feet from others while outside, as well as inside any office or other building.  

  • Avoid crowds of any size.  

  • Try to visit grocery stores and pharmacies when they are less crowded  

  • Persons who fall into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for those who should not wear face coverings due to a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental disability, or for whom no other accommodation can be offered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

  5. Who do I contact with violations or report?

We are asking that mask ordinance inquiries, violations or reports be sent to this email address: ASKMHDCOVID19@milwaukee.gov and that folks call 2-1-1. 

 

2. Mask Distribution

Open AllClose All
  1. Is the City of Milwaukee Health Department distributing masks?

View map of COVID-19 Free Mask Sites
(Espanol, Hmong)
 

The City of Milwaukee Health Department under resolution 200409, approved on July 13, 2020, was directed to establish a program to distribute masks to any City resident that doesn’t have one upon request. The City of Milwaukee Health Department will coordinate purchasing and distribution of free masks for the community. The Health Department will partner with other city entities including but not limited to the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments, Public Library, and Community Development Block Grant neighborhood service programs for access. Additionally, a comprehensive community mask access plan will be developed by 7/31/2020  by the health department and vetted by the Board of Health.  

  2. Where can I find information on face mask distribution sites?  
  • View map of COVID-19 Free Mask Sites
    (Espanol, Hmong)
     

  • In addition to the face masks distributed by the City of Milwaukee Health Department, Fiserv Forum serves as the distribution site for 2.5 million non-surgical face masks for MaskUpMKE, a Milwaukee initiative that benefits the medical and nonprofit community during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

  • The Restaurant Association are providing, for a limited time, limited amounts of free masks to businesses to make available for customers/patrons that forget their masks.   Please contact the Restaurant Association for additional details.  

  3. My organization wants to help make masks - how do we do that? 
  • MaskUpMKE is an effort to establish one central place for organizations and people in the City of Milwaukee to request handmade cloth face masks that are being sewn by local volunteers. This is a collaboration between many community partners.   

  • See the questions below for how you or your organization can give or get mask(s).Other sewing groups may join. Please email the City of Milwaukee Health Department at ASKMHDCOVID19@milwaukee.gov for more information.  

  4. I sew masks - where can I donate them? 

Log Cabin Sewing Company: We have been called to help! Join the Cause to Protect those that Help by Sewing Fabric Face Masks.   

  • We have now created a group of volunteers that are creating approved face masks for vetted local agency needs here in SE Wisconsin.  

  • 12520 W Hampton Ave ., Butler, WI 53007, US 

  • +1 262-202-8765, craftyperson@logcabinsewingcompany.com 

The Masked Sewists for SE Wisconsin - Can be found on Facebook   

MaskUp is an effort to establish one central place for organizations and people in the City of Milwaukee to request handmade cloth face masks that are being sewn by local volunteers. If you or anyone you know would like to sew masks and donate them, please contact ASKMHDCOVID19@milwaukee.gov for assisting in coordinating this effort.  

  5. I need a face covering - where can I get one?

Please check with your local pharmacy, grocery store, or other box store.

  6. Is it possible for me to make my own face covering?

You can make your face covering easily at home by using a scarf, bandana or other cotton cloth. There are a number of easy “do it yourself” videos and instructions to help you make your own cloth face covering at home, including:

· The CDC website has a few patterns, including one that involves a coffee filter and another that requires no sewing — just scissors and the willingness to sacrifice a T-shirt! Surgeon General Jerome Adams released a video of himself making a mask out of cloth and rubber bands.

· A simple no-sew mask that has a bridge for your nose, which can help keep your glasses from fogging up.

· There are many quiz sites online that may help determining what mask types may work for you such as: https://www.playbuzz.com/larak10/a-who-is-your-mask-and-the-person-behind-it or https://www.quizony.com/what-mask-do-you-wear/index.html Answer a few questions to find an easy, no-sew mask you can make and feel comfortable wearing.

· Homemade cloth masks can be found online. Look for ones made of cotton. If you order online, places like Etsy, which you can filter by location, allow you to support someone local and get a delivery more quickly.

· Residents who already have masks and/or the resources at home to make cloth masks are encouraged to defer supplies to those residents and families who are most in need.

 

3. Business 

Open AllClose All
  1. How is the ordinance enforced?

The owner or operator of any building open to the public shall ensure all persons present in their building comply with the face covering requirements.

· The owner or operator of any building open to the public has the right to refuse entry or service to any person for failure to comply.

· Any owner or operator of a building open to the public that permits a person to violate in their building open to the public shall upon conviction, pay a fine between $50 and not more than $500.

· The Commissioner of Health and city attorney are authorized to pursue license revocation or a court order closing a building open to the public in accordance with state and local law for failing to require persons present to abide.

· Exemptions:

· In regards to any person with a disability preventing them from wearing a mask, there is an exemption written into the ordinance. Persons who fall into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for those who should not wear face coverings due to a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental disability, or for whom no other accommodation can be offered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

· All businesses should seek legal counsel to establish a policy on face masks and how to enforce. Each business should post their policy online and on their door.

o Face mask exemptions may be denied on the basis of “direct threat.” There is still an obligation under the ADA to determine if there are other modifications that could be provided to access goods and services.

o Some examples include:

♦ Allow a person to wear a scarf, loose face covering, or full face shield instead of a face mask.

♦ Allow customers to order online with curbside pick-up or no contact delivery in a timely manner.

♦ Allow customers to order by phone with curbside pick-up or no contact delivery in a timely manner.

♦ Allow a person to wait in a car for an appointment and enter the building when called or texted.

♦ Offer appointments by telephone or video calls.

  2. Who do I contact to report business exemptions and enforcement?

Email CEHadmin@milwaukee.gov or call (414) 286-3607. 

  3. I was told by a public venue that they will not follow the mandate or enforce it. Are businesses exempt in wearing masks if they choose?

· Businesses/operators of public venues are not exempt from the mask ordinance.

· The owner or operator of any building open to the public shall ensure all persons present in their building comply with the face covering requirements.

· The owner or operator of any building open to the public has the right to refuse entry or service to any person for failure to comply.

· Any owner or operator of a building open to the public that permits a person to violate in their building open to the public shall upon conviction, pay a fine between $50 and not more than $500.

· The Commissioner of Health and city attorney are authorized to pursue license revocation or a court order closing a building open to the public in accordance with state and local law for failing to require persons present to abide.

  4. Does the mask mandate cover weddings as well?

· Masks are required at weddings by officiant and guests just like at a restaurant.

· Brides and grooms are not required to wear a mask during the ceremony but must maintain six (6) foot distance from the guests and officiant

  5. Should I wear a face mask or covering while I exercise?

Yes! Everyone is required to wear a mask, even to exercise. If you are exercising and need to remove your face covering to breathe adequately, make sure no one is near you before removing it. Be sure to keep the face covering readily available so you can put it back on quickly and properly if someone comes within 6 feet of you.

It’s also important for you to stay at least 6 feet away from others while you are exercising outside. Only engage in types of exercise that allow you to keep a 6-foot physical distance from others and that don’t require shared equipment or close contact with others.

Cloth masks seem to allow people to breathe easier, especially while exercising, as they are more thin than other varieties.

  5. 1 Why do I need to wear a mask during fitness?

According to CDC, during fitness work out at any gym:

· Maintain at least 6 feet of separation as much as possible in areas that may lead to close contact (within 6 feet) among other people, such as weight rooms, group fitness studios, pools and saunas, courts and fields, walking/running tracks, locker rooms, check-in areas, parking lots, and routes of entry and exit.

· Ensure equipment is clean and disinfected. Wipe down machines and equipment with disinfecting wipes and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol before using machines.

· Do not share items that cannot be cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected between use, such as resistance bands and weightlifting belts.

· Wear a cloth face covering when interacting with other people to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.

· Wearing cloth face coverings is most important when physical distancing is difficult and when exercise type and intensity allows.

· Consider doing any vigorous-intensity exercise outside when possible and stay at least 6 feet away from other participants, trainers, and clients if unable to wear a face covering.

· Again, people who are engaged in high intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a cloth face covering if it causes difficulty breathing. If unable to wear a cloth face covering, consider conducting the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain physical distance from others.

  6. My organization needs masks - how can we get them?

If your organization is in need of masks, please submit your request to ASKMHDCOVID19@milwaukee.gov and someone will be in touch with you directly.

  7. When is a mask required when you are at a restaurant or bar?

Masks are required when you are not eating or drinking. If you have a drink in your hand or are seated at a table or bar with a drink or food, that is considered actively drinking and eating. Please make sure to put your mask on when you are not drinking, eating or moving throughout the bar or restaurant.

  8. Are masks required when you are in a drive thru?

Masks are required when you are at a drive thru. As an operator, you are not expected to refuse service if a customer comes to the window without a mask however it is encouraged that you make it clear to customers who approach the drive through that masks are required to ensure they are aware before they enter the drive thru line to avoid confrontational situations at the end of the transaction.

 

4. Resources

Open AllClose All
  1. Where can I find the city’s dashboard and resources?
  2. Where can I find the city’s orders and sector specific webinars/tools?

Please see the Moving Milwaukee Forward Safely webpage for order updates and more. 

 


 

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Open AllClose All
  What is COVID-19?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that is spreading in the Milwaukee community and around the world. The virus is not associated with any particular race, ethnicity, culture or age. Anyone is susceptible to COVID-19. 

COVID-19 has a potential to cause severe illness in some people. It is spread person to person, most commonly during close contact through droplets in the air. COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission, and less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces. 

  What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?

Most people who have COVID-19 have little to no symptoms, but some people do and might have to go to the hospital. Most people who get sick from COVID-19 start to feel these symptoms between two and 14 days after they catch it.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of taste


Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms. For many, symptoms are mild, with no fever. It is important to know that you can still spread (transmit) the virus to others even if you have mild or no symptoms.

  How does COVID-19 spread from person to person?

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person when people are in close contact with one another. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks these droplets can land in mouths, noses, or breathed in by people who are in close contact. COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission, as people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. 

It also may be possible, though less common,  that a person can get COVID-19 from touching a surface or object that has the virus and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. 

COVID-19 is very easily to spread between people. CDC has indicated that COVID-19 spreads easier between people than the seasonal flu. 

  Can COVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?

The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. The World Health Organization (WHO) is assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share updated findings.

  What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of the disease?

To stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • Staying home with your family
  • Washing hands and surfaces often
  • Keeping six feet or more away from others in public spaces
  • Do not meet in group of any size


Covering your nose and mouth with a mask. This mask can be made from cloth. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

You can learn more about the current situation at cdc.gov/coronavirus or by calling 2-1-1.

  Who is at risk of getting COVID-19?

Anyone who is close to someone who is infected with COVID-19 is at risk for catching the virus. The virus is not associated with any particular race, ethnicity, culture or age. Anyone is susceptible to COVID-19. This virus is now spreading person to person in the Milwaukee community.

  How can I prevent getting COVID-19?

There are currently two vaccines authorized for Emergency Use to prevent COVID-19, with more under development. Vaccine supply is limited, and only one of many tools we have, so you should continue to do the following to prevent COVID-19:  

  • Please continue to wear a mask when in public or around people outside of your household. 

  • Practice physical distancing of 6 feet or more from other people. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. 

  • Avoid gatherings with people outside of your household. 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you have been in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. 

  How do you treat COVID-19?

Most people who have COVID-19 get better just by resting, drinking fluids, and treating the symptoms of COVID-19. If you think you may have been infected with COVID-19, contact your health care provider immediately by phone. Follow all the care instructions from your health care provider and local health department. They may give instructions on checking and reporting your symptoms.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the operator that you have or think you might have COVID-19. If possible, put on a face covering before medical arrives.

Emergency warning signs of COVID-19 are:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
  What should you do if you are around someone who has COVID 19?

The symptoms you should look for are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of taste


If you get any of these symptoms within 14 days of being around someone with COVID-19 coronavirus, call your health care provider right away. Tell your provider that you might have had contact with someone with coronavirus and tell them your symptoms.

  I think I may have novel coronavirus (COVID-19). What should I do?

View all COVID-19 Testing Sites
Anyone with symptoms should request to be tested. Try your primary care doctor first.

If you are having a medical emergency, please call 911. If you have health concerns that are not a medical emergency, please call your doctor before going in-person to a clinic or hospital. Your doctor will provide you with the next steps you should take over the phone.

If you do not have a doctor, please contact one of these health systems:

  • Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin- 414-805-2000
  • Advocate Aurora Health - 1-866-443-2584
  • Ascension Wisconsin - 833-981-0711

You may also visit Children’s Wisconsin 24/7 Online Urgent Care

If you do not have health insurance or you are not connected to a doctor, you may also reach out to one of the five Community Health Centers in Milwaukee:

  • Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center – 414-383-9526
  • Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. – 414-372-8080
  • Outreach Community Health Center – 800-952-1086
  • Progressive Community Health Center - 414-882-2040
  • Sixteenth Street Community Health Center – 414-672-1353
  Who can get tested for COVID-19?

View all COVID-19 Testing Sites
Anyone with symptoms should request to be tested. Try your primary care doctor first.

If you have symptoms such as a cough or fever, but do not think you need to go to the doctor, stay home and rest. If you have trouble breathing or an emergency, call 911.

More information can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Human Services site What to Do If You Are Sick and at the CDC’s Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) 

Additional testing information for Wisconsin can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19: Health Care Providers webpage under testing criteria. 

  I received a COVID-19 test and am waiting for my test results. What should I do now?

Follow the directions given to you by your doctor.

While waiting for your test results, stay home and stay away from other people including family and roommates living in your home. Stay in a separate room from your family members if possible. Drink plenty of water and rest while staying home.

Monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms get worse, such as shortness of breath, a worse cough, or fever (fever is over 101 for more than 3 days or your fever is over 100.4 for more than 5 days), call your doctor. If you experience a medical emergency, call 911.

Wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth if you need to be around others. For more information on creating a homemade cloth face covering, please view the CDC resource on the use of cloth face coverings

  I am traveling or just returned from a trip. What should I do?

Travel guidelines are changing rapidly. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services' website

  What does isolation and quarantine mean?

Isolation and quarantine are two actions that can be taken by Public Health Agencies to help protect the public by preventing and containing the spread of a contagious disease. The goal is to stop more people from becoming infected. Isolation separates sick people who are known to have an illness or disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who have been exposed to an illness or disease while they are being monitored to determine whether they become sick. For COVID-19, the incubation period is a maximum of 14 days, therefore this is the time period that is used to determine the length of quarantine.

When Public Health Agencies takes the action of isolating or quarantining, then everyone involved may become part of the legal process. Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 252 Communicable Diseases, specifically § 252.06, authorizes the use of isolation and/or quarantine to stop the spread of a communicable disease.

  What should patients do if they are quarantined?

While quarantined, the patient:

  • May not leave their home or place of containment without prior approval by the health officer or their legal designee
  • May not have contact with any new non-previously exposed people unless approved by the health officer
  • Must be under medical supervision for monitoring, diagnostic testing and collection of blood and other samples
  • May not remove or deface any warnings or placards posted by the health department
  • Has the right to confer with legal counsel

 

Monitoring: 
14 days after the last possible exposure/return from a level 3 area, the patient must:

  • Take their temperature two-times daily; and (report above ~100.4 degrees Fahrenheit )
  • Watch for COVID-2019 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath); and
  • On a daily basis permit a public health official to directly observe one or both of the temperature checks and review symptoms; and,
  • Immediately report to public health officials if they have any symptoms; and,
  • Discuss with public health officials their plans for activities so they can determine whether these are allowed.

 

Movement:

  • Quarantined patients should not travel by any commercial conveyances (e.g., airplane, ship, long-distance bus, or train). Local use of public transportation (e.g., taxi, bus, subway) and travel should be discussed and coordinated with the public health department. If local public transportation is used, the patient must be able to exit quickly if they feel ill. Travel by private car is permitted.
  • Do not go to bars, restaurants, shopping centers, theaters, church, or any public places where they will be sitting or standing less than 6 feet away from others.
  • Do not go to their workplace (telework is permitted).
  • Do not go to school (which is currently closed).
  • Additional movement restrictions may be defined by your health department depending on circumstances (e.g. healthcare provider, first responders).
  What is the guidance for emergency workers (MFD, MPD, EMS)?

Travel is not in the equation any longer for this group. If the individual came in contact (within 6 feet of the person) with a known case (someone who tested positive) for more than 10 minutes, they are required to self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms. Monitoring for symptoms means reporting immediately if the client has one or more of the following:

  • Fever (100.4 or higher) **must take temperature two-times daily
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  Can I have sex? Here are some tips.

Know how COVID-19 spreads.

  • You can get COVID-19 from a person who has it.
    • The virus can spread to people who are within about 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 when that person coughs or sneezes.
    • The virus can spread through direct contact with their saliva or mucus.
  • We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex.
    • COVID-19 has been found in feces of people who are infected with the virus.
    • COVID-19 has not yet been found in semen or vaginal fluid.
    • We know that other coronaviruses do not efficiently transmit through sex.

 

Have sex with people close to you.

  • You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.
  • The next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact — including sex — with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19. Have sex only with consenting partners.
  • You should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside your household.
  • If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible.
  • If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you.

 

Take care during sex.

  • Kissing can easily pass COVID-19. Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your small circle of close contacts.
  • Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter your mouth.
  • Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva or feces, especially during oral or anal sex.
  • Washing up before and after sex is more important than ever.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Wash sex toys with soap and warm water.
    • Disinfect keyboards and touch screens that you share with others
top