The state mask mandate is over. What does that mean for Mequon?
Businesses and Institutions
Businesses, houses of worship and other private buildings have an absolute right to require masks. People who refuse to wear one one despite signs requiring them or requests by management to do so are trespassing and, if they otherwise resist, are committing disorderly conduct. The Mequon Police Department will support the management of these private places and, if called by management, arrest trespassers and people who act disorderly.
City Buildings and City Employees
Masks will continue to be required at City Hall and the Public Safety Building (I assume the library also, but that is separately managed). City employees will continue to wear masks when entering other buildings or approaching the public. This will continue at least until city employees and the majority of the community have had a chance to be immunized. I assume that point will occur in May or June.
What about a Local Mask Mandate?
I will not be proposing or proclaiming one. The Common Council could, but I doubt that will happen.
I always wear a mask when I enter a building (even though I hate wearing them). I believe people should continue to do so until more people have been vaccinated. It is the responsible thing to do. I also believe businesses, houses of worship and other places should continue to require masks. I trust most are responsible and will do so.
Back in July, when the mask mandate was first imposed, there was no vaccine on the horizon, and it was certain that infections, hospitalizations and deaths would increase as the fall and winter approached. That happened.
However, regardless of what you think about that mask mandate, there is no doubt that things have changed.
Today, about 32% of the state has already had at least one shot (I expect our local rate is much higher), our most vulnerable populations have had time to get vaccinated, the early difficulties in getting a vaccine have passed, there have unofficially been opportunities for others to be vaccinated and, as of tomorrow, anyone is officially eligible to be vaccinated. There is no pressure in our local hospitals, and there have been few deaths since the beginning of the year in our county. With roughly a third of the adult population having been vaccinated, and another 10% (577,195) having been confirmed as having had the virus (and likely twice that many, or more, actually having had it), the chance of contracting the virus has decreased. Also, we are going into the outdoor months of the year.
Government should not pass rules because people could act irresponsibly. Laws are usually only passed when people have acted irresponsibly and the public good demands it.
To date, most people in Mequon have acted responsibly, and it is not because of a mandate. The police were not looking for violators. There have been no arrests or prosecutions.
Plus, people are now better able to protect themselves. Government should not pass rules to protect people from their own poor decisions.
Could this change?
I hope not. If people do the right thing, there will be no reason to consider it.
So, is it time to go back to normal?
No, definitely not. However, I have confidence that most of our community will continue to act responsibly. People can keep themselves and their families reasonably safe if they take proper precautions and act responsibly.
People should continue to social distance, use good hygiene and wear masks.
In my opinion, businesses, houses of worship and other institutions should continue doing what they have been doing. They do not need a mandate to do so.
If some business or place stops requiring masks, people can exercise their most powerful tool. They can leave and politely let management know why.
People should get the vaccine. The preponderance of the data is clear that the vaccines are safe. If people do not get the vaccine, the consequences will be on them.
The time for going back to normal, or near normal, is near, perhaps weeks or only a month or so away, but we are not there yet.