September 28, 2021

Martinsville Considering Ordinance To Ban Mask, Vaccine Mandates

Downtown Martinsville.

Downtown Martinsville.

The City of Martinsville is considering an ordinance that would ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates and mask mandates, but the mayor has doubts. 

Proponents say the ordinance would protect the personal liberties of Martinsville residents and visitors. 

"This would leave the choice up to the individual," said Ben Merida, a city employee who proposed the ordinance.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he won’t make masks mandatory statewide and already signed a law banning so-called vaccine passports, which would require Hoosiers and visitors to show proof of vaccination. 

Merida said the law the governor signed doesn't go far enough to protect people's liberties.

“Somebody gets COVID and passes away and somebody wants to come back and name us in a lawsuit? Well, this wouldn't have happened if we would allow a mask and so forth,” said Martinsville Mayor Kenny Costin.

Costin, who owns a funeral home, is concerned the ordinance would prevent local businesses from protecting their customers.

“We've had a couple of situations where families have asked, we want everyone to wear a mask.   Of course, we're always telling them, we need to make sure there's a mask available for somebody that comes in,” said Costin.

A five-person committee tasked to examine the issue is expected to have a recommendation by the Oct. 12 city council meeting, according to the mayor.  Merida said November would be a more realistic timeline.

The committee includes three council members, an official from the county health department and Merida.

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