‘They don’t get to choose’: Local leaders say all businesses need to follow mask order

MADISON, Wis.– Public Health Madison and Dane County has already received over 150 complaints about businesses not complying with the new mask order since enacted on Monday.

If a customer walks into a business and refuses to wear a mask, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said businesses have the power to deny service. But, what if a business isn’t enforcing the ordinance in its establishment? Parisi said that’s not their decision to make.

“They don’t get to choose,” Parisi said. “There are certain laws, ordinances, and rules on the books for the protection of the good.”

Parisi compared the hesitance to when the law prohibiting smoking indoors was first established.

“If you recall when that law passed a number of years ago, every bar in the state said ‘we are going to go out of business if you don’t let people smoke,'” Parisi said. “Well guess what, more people go to the bars because they’re not getting full of cigarette smoke.”

Customers can email Public Health Madison and Dane County about businesses not following the order. Their email is compliance@publichealthmdc.com.

“There is a complaint driven process where people can be reported to Public Health, and it’s an ordinance violation,” Parisi said. “We choose to really try to do education first and ask people to do the right thing to protect themselves and their neighbors, but there are local ordinances in place that would allow for fines if necessary.”

Those fines can be as high as $376. Parisi said he expects most people to adhere to the guidelines.

“Those refusing to comply are a very small minority, and so, I don’t want that to paint the majority of this community who really cares about protecting their neighbors,” Parisi said.

Public Health Madison and Dane County recommends people not ask individuals in public why they aren’t wearing masks, because some people with disabilities are exempt from the ordinance. In that situation the department said people should put their own mask on and leave the enforcement to them.