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Marathon Co. considering COVID-19 ordinance

Marathon Co., Wis. (WAOW) -- Marathon County is considering a sweeping COVID-19 ordinance, which would include everything from fines to businesses, and quarantines for those exposed.

County leaders, health officials, and business leaders have been working together on this ordinance. The goal of the ordinance is to keep the public safe but also protect the economy.

Right now there are no state-wide restrictions when it comes to COVID-19 since the Safer at Home Order was overturned by the State Supreme Court.
That's why area officials are looking to put measures in place in preparation for a second wave of COVID-19.

"It's intent was to clearly identify individuals that are highly contiagious with the COVID-19 virus, but it was not a 'Safer at Home Order'," said Marathon County Chair Kurt Gibbs.

The Marathon Co. board is working with other area leaders to find what best suits the community.

"The Wisconsin County Association will be working with the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Association, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, along with Wisconsin health officials to try to develop those guidelines," said Marathon County board supervisor John Robinson.

One idea mentioned on the call was ankle monitors for those under quarantine because of COVID-19.

"People could be restrained through wearing an ankle bracelets if leaving the house -- to know their whereabouts," said Marathon County board supervisor Donna Krause..

"The issue of ankle bracelets came up during the discussion of the ordinance it -- it is not in the ordinance -- has not be in the ordinance and most likely will not be in the ordinance," said Robinson.

The ordinance would give the county's health director the ability to give out forfeitures to businesses and people who don't comply with COVID-19 orders, including fines between $100 to $25,000.

The board says the guidelines are constantly being revised to reflect what best suits current information and the community.

On Wednesday the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce released a statement in opposition to the ordinance. that could give the local health department "broad and overreaching authority over local businesses and individuals."

WMC Executive Vice President of Government Relations Scott Manley released a statement urging County Supervisors to oppose the proposal.

“Marathon County’s proposed COVID-19 ordinance is fundamentally flawed, unfair and should be rejected by the county board. Several of the regulations proposed against businesses and citizens conflict with state law and are therefore unlawful. The ordinance gives broad, overreaching and unaccountable authority to a single unelected decision-maker to impose burdens that could have disastrous economic consequences for families and businesses in Marathon County.

“The ordinance’s draconian penalty of $25,000 per day for failure to comply with regulations, many of which are not based in the law, is excessive and likely unlawful. Given the significant legal and policy concerns with the proposed ordinance, the Marathon County Board should reject it, and instead work with stakeholders on a narrowly-focused ordinance that actually complies with the limitations imposed under state law.”

The executive committee will discuss the ordinance on Thursday, but is not expected to be finalized for about a month.

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Sierra Rehm

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