The Barron County District Attorney’s Office will not prosecute any referrals for violations of the mandate requiring face coverings statewide that is included in the Governor’s Executive Order Declaring Public Health Emergency and Requiring Face Coverings Statewide which was declared on July 30, 2020. The Governor’s authority to issue such an order and to expose the citizens of Wisconsin to forfeiture liability for violation is unresolved. I will not deprive citizens of property via a forfeiture prosecution if there is not clear authority for such a prosecution. At this time, I am not satisfied that such a clear authority exists.
This does not mean that masks should not be worn and, in many instances, must be worn. The Barron County Justice Center requires anyone entering the courthouse to wear a mask or face covering. The same requirement may be implemented in all public buildings. Private businesses may require employees and/or customers to wear a mask or face covering. In each case, if a person refuses to comply with the requirement to wear a mask or face covering, that person may be directed to leave the premises. If the person refuses to leave, that person may be prosecuted for trespass.
All of us should continue to follow the guidelines recommended by the Barron County Health Department. The Barron County Health Department strongly recommends the wearing of masks when social distancing is not possible. The continued acceptance of and willingness to voluntarily follow the guidelines recommended by the Barron County Health Department is essential to slowing the spread of the virus in Barron County.
- Brian H. Wright, Barron County District Attorney