Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
If Your Time is short
State mask order applies to public spaces, both indoors and confined outdoor spaces.
The order specifically exempts private residences.
And masks are not required — though they are “strongly recommended” — in general outdoor areas where one would walk a dog.
In a state Capitol where the response to COVID-19 — and pretty much everything else — splits along party lines, the response to Gov. Tony Evers’ July 30, 2020, statewide mask order was predictable.
Republican lawmakers launched a flurry of news releases condemning the Democratic governor’s decision, although more than 30 states now require masks in some public spaces. Republicans successfully sued Evers in March over his stay-at-home order.
In a July 30, 2020 news release titled "Statement on statewide mask mandate," state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said mask decisions should be made by businesses and individuals, not governments.
"I can understand why some businesses are requiring masks. That is their choice, just as it is my choice to do business elsewhere. That’s what America is about," he wrote. "But no one is going to make me wear a mask in my house, or walking my dog. That is also what America is about – free choice."
Given the context, Wanggaard is suggesting the governor’s mandate requires masks while walking a dog or in one’s house.
Just one problem.
Evers’ order does neither of those.
The July 30, 2020, mask order generally requires all Wisconsin residents to wear face coverings in public spaces indoors starting Aug. 1, through the end of September.
The order lays out numerous exceptions, including children under age 5, people who are eating or sleeping, individual speakers making a presentation for an audience and people who are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition. Violating the order could result in fines of up to $200.
The core of the mandate is worded like this:
Every individual, age five and older, in Wisconsin shall wear a face covering if both of the following apply:
a. The individual is indoors or in an enclosed space, other than at a private residence; and;
b. Another person or persons who are not members of individual's household or living unit are present in the same room or enclosed space.
Face coverings are strongly recommended in all other settings, including outdoors when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing.
The order earlier defines an "enclosed space" as a place open to the public, including outdoor bars, restaurants and park structures.
Nothing there lines up with Wanggaard’s declaration about masks at home or walking his dog. The order explicitly refers only to indoor or enclosed spaces and notes private homes as an exception.
Asked for evidence of Wanggaard’s claim, staffer Scott Kelly noted the City of Racine’s order would apply while walking a dog. It requires coverings within six feet of a non-family member in any outdoor space.
But the news release was focused on the statewide order, not local ones.
Wanggaard said he opposes statewide mask order because it would require him to "wear a mask in my house, or walking my dog."
But an open outdoor area where a person would walk a dog isn’t within the requirements of the mandate, and the order has a specific exemption for private homes.
We rate this claim False.
Van Wanggaard, news release, July 30, 2020
Email exchange with Scott Kelly, staffer for Van Wanggaard, July 30, 2020
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tony Evers issues a statewide mandate to wear masks indoors through the end of September, July 30, 2020
Tony Evers, Emergency Order #1, July 30, 2020
City of Racine, 2019 Novel Coronavirus Response - Face Coverings, effective July 27, 2020
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.