Several local law enforcement officials quickly announced Thursday that they would not enforce Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' mask mandate.
Evers ordered the wearing of masks for anyone age 5 and up starting on Saturday for all enclosed spaces except a person's home. The new order also applies to outdoor bars and restaurants, except when people are eating or drinking.
Anyone who violates the order would be subject to a $200 fine. It is slated to run until Sept. 28.
Lafayette County Sheriff Reg Gill and Prairie du Chien Police Chief Kyle Teynor made nearly identical announcements on social media declaring they would not enforce the order, "knowing that the wearing of face coverings is a very polarizing topic."
They said "this is a public health emergency" and referred complaints to the governor's office, Wisconsin Department of Health Services or county health departments.
Both concluded with "PLEASE DO NOT CALL" their agencies and that their staff "WILL NOT be responding to this type of complaint unless other circumstances require a law enforcement response."
Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman also said his agency would not enforce the mandate.
"As the sheriff, I am granted broad discretion in the enforcement of laws and will not take any action on this order as the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have the resources, nor is it clear who has actual enforcement power," Dreckman said in his announcement. "At any given time, I have a limited number of deputies on to cover the entirety of the county, and as it is, they continuously run from call to call. We need them to be working on the prevention and investigation of criminal activity to help provide a safe and secure environment for our citizens.
"Secondly, with the current lack of support for law enforcement in this country (not necessarily locally), the last thing I would want to do is subject our citizens and our law enforcement into having contact over a controversial issue. ... Sheriffs across the state are seeking clarification from the Attorney General’s Office as to who has enforcement action on this order, as it is a public health order. Many district attorneys across the state believe that the order is not a law enforcement issue, but rather a state and local public health department issue"