Governor Tony Evers has issued a statewide mask mandate, in an effort to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.

The Democratic Governor on Thursday issued a new public health emergency, along with the mandate for people to wear a mask.

The mandate puts him at odds with Republican legislators who have argued masks should be optional.

“You can’t legislate common sense. For that reason, I continue to strongly oppose the one-size- fits all approach of Governor Evers’ response to coronavirus in this state, including the statewide mask mandate,” said state Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) in a statement. “It’s transparent and blatantly political that his order doesn’t take effect until his handpicked Supreme Court justice take office.”

The governor’s face mask requirement takes effect the same day as Jill Karofsky, who was elected the state Supreme Court in April, is to be sworn in. Her arrival will narrow the court’s conservative majority to a 4-3 advantage.

State Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) called for an immediate legislative session to block Evers’ mask mandate, calling it “illegal and unnecessary.”

“I still do not support mandating mask wearing statewide,” said state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), who said that he’s “gauging the interest” of his caucus to vote down the mandate. “The Legislature should be reconvening to look at this.”

Effective Saturday, people age five and up are required to wear a face covering when inside or an enclosed space, other than a private residence, and around those who aren’t members of their household.

“While I know emotions are high when it comes to wearing face coverings in public, my job as governor is to put people first and to do what’s best for the people of our state, so that’s what I am going to do,” Evers said in a statement.

Evers also recommends masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

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