Milwaukee business owners call for mandatory mask rule

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    Ben Franklin on the 100 dollar bill with a face mask. Coronavirus affects the world economy. Getty Images

    In a June 30 letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Cavalier Johnson, the owners of more than 70 Milwaukee businesses are asking for the immediate declaration of a mandatory mask policy to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

    “Please don’t let us become Florida or Texas,” the business leaders write.

    Hundreds of cities across America have mandated the wearing of face masks in public, the letter points out, and public health officials say wearing a mask is the best way — other than  staying at home — to stop the spread of COVID-19.

    As infections in Wisconsin begin to rise again, now is the time for Milwaukee to implement this policy, the letter-writers argue. They point out that cities that reopened business without a mask policy, including Houston and Fort Lauderdale, saw big spikes in COVID-19 infections.

    “Without a city mandate, many customers will not be willing to come to our businesses,” the business leaders write. “Compliance with requirements a business may establish will be inconsistent at best. Our employees can’t be assured of a safe work environment. And the risk is much higher for new outbreaks, which could result in new stay-at-home orders that put us out of business for good.”

    The letter’s signers include the owners and operators of Fiserv Forum, Bartolotta Restaurants, Colectivo Coffee, Lowlands Group and the Pabst Theater Group, among many others.

    There is also an online petition, sponsored by, that individuals can sign calling for a mask requirement in Milwaukee.

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine, and opened the Progressive’s office in Washington, DC, during the Clinton Administration, where she made her debut as a political pundit on CNN’s Capital Gang Sunday and Fox News. She moved to Oaxaca, Mexico, for a year in 2017, where she covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Donald Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on All in with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, and other radio and television programs. In 2011, she did award-winning coverage of the uprising against Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Conniff graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal.