Home » News » Waupaca News » Safety protocols remain

Safety protocols remain

Waupaca still requires masks in city facilities

By Angie Landsverk

While the state Supreme Court rescinded the governor’s mask mandate earlier this month, people are still required to wear masks in city of Waupaca buildings.

When the common council met on April 7, it voted 8-1-1 to require city employees and patrons to wear masks in city facilities.

Lori Chesnut voted against the motion, and Paul Hagen abstained.

All council members were present for the in-person meeting.

Hagen thought there needed to be more clarification for city employees.

Chesnut did not see the need for such action.

“Everyone just continues to do what they’re doing,” she said in regard to where she works, which is the Waupaca County Courthouse.

Chesnut said plexiglass remains in place and people wear masks when in meetings and interacting with the public.

Prior to the council’s vote, Mayor Brian Smith said city employees were wearing masks when in groups but not when in their own work space or office.

That did not change with the council’s vote.

The decision to continue requiring masks in city facilities was part of a larger discussion.

Ald. Alan Kjelland asked for the discussion due to the expiration of the state mask order.

He described the state Supreme Court decision as “unfortunate in my opinion.”

Kjelland noted the increase in younger adults being hospitalized from COVID-19, as well as the variants circulating in the country.

He said Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services continues to recommend people follow the guidelines to keep their communities safe.

This includes wearing masks, staying 6 feet away from others and washing hands frequently.

Kjelland was in favor of the council approving a mask resolution like it did last August.

That resolution expired in October and never applied in the city due to the state order being in place at the time.

The state order was more restrictive so it superseded the city’s policy.

Some council members prefer personal choice

Hagen said he did not disagree with many of the points Kjelland brought before the council.

However, Hagen preferred to leave the wearing of masks up to businesses and individuals in the community.

“In my 25 years of serving the city council here, this is the first time I’ve seen our body try to mandate a personal choice of someone doing something in the community,” he said.

It was a different situation when the state mandated it, Hagen said.

He said it was his opinion that not a lot of people would wear a mask just because the council said they would have to.

Chesnut said those who have been wearing a mask for the past year will continue to do so.

She said she has not noticed much of a difference in the number of people wearing masks since the governor’s order was rescinded.

In regard to people who are not wearing masks, “we’re never going to get them to wear them,” Chesnut said.

Ald Mary Phair said she believes it is the council’s job to “look for what is the right thing to do to help our community, to follow the guidelines that are being given by experts in this country and in this county.”

She believed approving a resolution would support businesses in the community and back them up.

“And the whole political side of it, I think has to be gone,” Phair said. “I think we need to eliminate the political argument and talk about what’s the right thing to do.”

Public prefers requiring masks

Ald. Dmitri Martin reminded the council a resolution was something it already discussed and initiated last year.

He noted two-thirds of the general public favored passing the public mask resolution at that time.

Ald. Scott Purchatzke agreed with what Martin said.

“I think we can just go back to that wording,” Purchatzke said saying the council should be careful to not use the word “mandate.”

Library Director Peg Burington spoke on behalf of library staff and patrons.

“I would urge you to consider this for the safety of the people who work for us and for the people who use our buildings,” she said.

Smith told the council it could consider how to handle city buildings separately from community buildings that are open to the public.

“Our city staff is waiting for us to discuss this tonight,” he said.

Ald. Eric Olson was not in favor of a city-wide resolution, saying there would be a huge backlash and the city would get a lot of calls.

Kjelland suggested there be separate discussions regarding city facilities and the general public.

No action was taken on the idea of a citywide mask resolution.

Scroll to Top