SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Businesses in a northern Indiana county could now face fines if they fail to enforce a county mask order requiring employees of businesses to wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The St. Joseph County Commissioners passed an ordinance Tuesday allowing the county health department to fine businesses violating the order between $50 and $250 for each day that the business remains out of compliance.
Under the ordinance, the health department can only fine businesses whose employees are not wearing masks. Businesses would not face fines if their customers fail to wear masks.
Business owners and county leaders said the new ordinance comes at a crucial time with coronavirus cases surging in the area and across Indiana.
“It’s not going to solve the problem but it just gives us another vehicle to help improve compliance in public spaces,” said Dr. Mark Fox, the county's deputy health officer.
Fox said that if the county health department learns that employees at a business are not wearing masks, they will work with that business, WSBT-TV reported.
“And if there’s a persistent disregard for that guidance, that would be the setting at which a business would be at risk of being fined,” he said.
A public health mask order has been in place in St. Joseph County since May, the South Bend Tribune reported. That order remains in effect through the end of the year and is likely to be renewed into next year. Last week, Gov. Eric Holcomb extended Indiana’s mask mandate for another month.