Mask mandate in Marion County takes effect

Marion County’s mask mandate began Thursday, and people who refuse to comply may be subject to a fine up to $1,000.

Last week, Mayor Joe Hogsett and Dr. Virginia Caine signed a public health order mandating the use of face masks beginning Thursday in Marion County to fight against the spread of COVOD-19. People will be required to wear masks when around others indoors, including inside workplaces where employees do not have their own offices. They won’t be required inside homes, but masks will be required outdoors when it is not possible to socially distance.

But the mandate won’t be enforced by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department since its a public health order. Rather, staff members of the health department will be enforcing the mandate. It’s unclear how many health department staff members will be part of the enforcement effort.

Rick Snyder, president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, said in a written statement that the order is not a policing matter. While the FOP is an organization representing local officers, Snyder does not represent IMPD.

“Any concerns or complaints related to the wearing of masks should be directed to the mayor’s office and our partners in the Marion County Public Health Department for any enforcement needs,” he said. “While our officers strongly support voluntary prevention efforts for public health, this specific executive order and the enforceability of such measures are left for others to decide and take action.”

Aliya Wishner, cheif communications officer for IMPD, said officers strongly support prevention efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, and in accordance with the public health order, will wear masks indoors and in outdoor situations where they can’t social distance, though in some emergency siutations, they may be delayed in putting their mask on if they have to prioritize addressing community members’ immediate needs.

The health department will likely seek a $1,000 fine for any violations that are filed with the court, Curt Brantingham, public information coordinator for the department, told IBJ.

The department will take an education-first approach to enforcing the mandate, he said.

“Enforcement measures are available, but the health department seeks first to gain compliance through education and information,” he said in an email.

Residents can make a complaint about individuals or businesses not adhering to the mandate by emailing [email protected] or by calling the health department at 317-221-5500.

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