'Really important right now:' Milwaukeeans react to mask mandate, free mask distribution program

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's health department has been directed to create a program that would give a free mask to each resident of the city.

Milwaukee's mask mandate applies to indoor public spaces and outdoor public spaces when you are 6 feet from someone not in your household. Several people we spoke with prior to the vote approving the mandate by the Milwaukee Common Council Monday, July 13 said it's crucial.

No matter what we are doing in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic is never far from our thoughts.

"I think that masks are really important right now, especially in Milwaukee, given that our cases are extremely high," Nhia Lee said.  

Especially, if positive COVID-19 cases are rising in your neighborhood.

"It's important because it's spreading a lot. Maybe this will help," a Milwaukee man said.

Milwaukee's Common Council passed the mask mandate for the city and alders also overwhelmingly agreed with a "masks for all" approach.

City leaders approved a plan allowing the health department to create a mask distribution program. The program would give every city resident a free washable face mask. A timeline of when that would be available has yet to be released.

"It definitely is important because a lot of people can't afford them or know where to find them," Jennifer Jones said.

FOX6 spoke with several people who said the city needed a mask mandate.

"It's important because if we don't have the mask, we're not going to protect ourselves or others," a Milwaukee man said.

But there are concerns for the outdoor portion of the ordinance.

"It's a little tricky," Amy Griggs said.

Some say there will be scenarios where people will need to use their best judgment.

"You have to think of the health and safety of others," Griggs said.

Once again, city leaders say the Milwaukee Police Department will not be enforcing this mandate. Instead, the health department will be doing the enforcement -- focused more on indoor spaces. Those in violation of the ordinance could face a fine of up to $500.

Again, a timeline for mask distribution has yet to be announced. However, city leaders say there will be one main mask vendor they will be using, but they also want to use local mask vendors in this program.