INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In a matter of hours, wearing a face mask will be required in public spaces in Marion County.
For the first time, News 8 is learning more about how it will be enforced.
The Marion County Public Health Department, not police, will handle the complaints.
City-County Councilor Michael-Paul Hart said he believes that means the order is more of a political statement or window dressing rather than being enforceable.
Masks are set to become mandatory Thursday in public indoor and outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible.
A county health department representative said the first goal will be to provide education but violating the public health order can bring a fine up to $1,000.
Hart said he learned Tuesday from the mayor’s staff that people can report businesses or individuals who are not in compliance to the city’s Emergency Operations Center, which will forward complaints to the county health department.
The Republican councilor thinks complaints will be difficult to enforce and ineffective because there are fewer health department employees than in other city and county departments.
“I think it’s more of a political thing that says, ‘We want to look like we’re going to do the right thing,’ but, in reality, I don’t think it will come to much of anything,” Hart said. “What I think we should be more focused on is how we can help businesses expand and start reopening.”
Hart said he believes a fine will not be imposed on the first offense. But when one is given, he expects it will start off in the neighborhood of a $50 fine that will increase for repeat offenses.
He adds safety for citizens is important, but, in the end, they should have the freedom to make their own decisions. That goes for business owners, too.
WISH-TV reached out Tuesday night to Democratic Party councilors and the health department for comment but was told no one was available for an interview.
“Section 2 of Public Health Order 20-2020 talks about the responsibility of businesses to ensure that visitors and customers comply with the face covering requirement. This is where any enforcement would likely take place.
“The Marion County Public Health Department will handle complaints related to the order. The goal of enforcement of the Order is first to provide education. As with other enforcement activities, the health department looks to work with a business to achieve compliance before taking further measures. Violation of a public health order can include a fine of up to $1000.
“The emphasis of this Order is on the importance of social distancing and requiring a mask in settings where social (physical) distancing is not possible, with exceptions as noted in the Order. Resources on face coverings are available on the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.”
Statement from spokesman with Marion County Public Health Department
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