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RACINE –  The City of Racine will again require face masks to be worn indoors and while on public transportation, within the city limits, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Racine Common Council, in a special, virtual meeting Tuesday evening, voted 8-6 to reinstate a city ordinance that requires anyone, age 5 or older, to wear a mask indoors or while riding public transportation. The rule does not apply to private residences and offices that are not open to visitors. The ordinance also makes exclusions for people with certain health issues.

The city’s previous indoor mask mandate was dropped earlier this summer. Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox last week requested that it be brought back, citing recent spikes in new COVID-19 cases locally, driven by the Delta variant of the virus, which spreads more rapidly than earlier strains. She also noted that slightly more 40 percent of the city’s residents are fully vaccinated against the virus.

The Common Council may vote to repeal the ordinance after the city completes three consecutive weeks of “moderate or lower” transmission level.

Milwaukee media outlets reported Tuesday night that the ordinance would take effect immediately. Wednesday morning, some Racine businesses – including retailers and gyms – had put up signs notifying customers of the requirement. The Downtown Racine Corp. produced and distributed “Face Mask Required” window signs on Wednesday.

But, Shannon Powell, the city’s communication director, said Wednesday afternoon that the mask ordinance officially takes effect Saturday (Sept. 4). That’s when the ordinance is scheduled to be published in the designated local newspaper, the Racine Journal Times.

How They Voted

The Common Council narrowly approved reinstating the mask requirement. Voting “yes” were Alders Mollie Jones, John Tate II, Marcus West, Sam Peete, C.J. Rouse, Natalia Taft, Jason Meema and Melissa Lempke. “No” votes were cast by Alders Jeff Coe, Edwin Santiago Melissa Kaprelian-Becker, Jeff Peterson Maurice Horton and Henry Perez.

Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...