Skip to Content

Dodge County’s mask mandate enforcement conflicted

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

BEAVER DAM (WKOW) -- Saturday's statewide, gubernatorial order requiring masks be worn inside businesses and other buildings is being met in Dodge County with different views from officials in position to enforce it.

In a statement, Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt says his deputies will not be responding to alleged violations of the mask order.

"The Dodge County Sheriff's Office has identified some significant challenges for enforcement," Schmidt says. "Many loopholes."

The mask requirement order includes exceptions, with certain health conditions being among them. Schmidt also cites questions about the order's legality, and any enforcement's strain on his office's resources.

Dodge County Public Health Officer Abby Saver has yet to respond to a request for comment from 27 News on plans for any complaint follow up and order enforcement.

Owner Joel Posthuma of the Town of Beaver Dam's 6th Gear bar and restaurant defied Governor Tony Evers' previous Safer At Home order and opened for business before the state Supreme Court struck down the order. He praises Schmidt for his hands-off approach to the mask order and says he won't police it.

"Our veterans fought for us to have choices," Posthuma says. "All my customers have a choice."

But in Dodge County's largest city, Beaver Dam, officials say complaints over any failure to wear masks as required will involve follow up, and possibly sanction.

"We don't determine the law," Mayor Becky Glewen tells 27 News. "We follow orders from the governor whether it's a Democrat or a Republican. We give that respect."

Glewen says Beaver Dam may even pursue a mandatory mask requirement for its public buildings in the event the governor's statewide order is again legally nullified.

Glewen acknowledges there may be a grace period as city officials assess any potential violations of the mask order.

"It's an education piece," Glewen says. "It takes a while sometimes for social issues to take hold, just like seat belts, wearing seat belts."

Daryl Schoenfeld owns the Piggly Wiggly store in Beaver Dam's Park Village and says the grocery store's approach to masks has involved "an evolution." Schoenfeld says in recent weeks he and all staff have worn masks. Store co-owner Brenda Schoenfeld estimates 70 percent of customers also now wear masks.

Darryl Schoenfeld says signs will be posted to alert customers to the mask requirement. But Schoenfeld says attorneys for the grocery store chain advise stores to take a hands off approach.

"If someone's not wearing the mask we can't really approach them because HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws, they might have a medical condition that requires them that they can't wear a mask," he says.

"In fact, Governor Evers guided the public on what to do if you see someone not wearing a mask," Schmidt says. "The governor's guidance is that you should do nothing," with Schmidt noting again exceptions to the requirement to include those who could compromise health with mask wearing.

Evers says there's scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of mask wearing as a means of trying to flatten Wisconsin's spiking coronavirus curve.

As of July 26, health data shows Dodge County has 632 cases of COVID-19 through the pandemic with five deaths.

Author Profile Photo

Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

Skip to content