INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday Marion County residents would be required to wear masks beginning July 9. The announcement comes just one day after Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb declined a statewide mask mandate, saying he trusted Hoosiers to make the right choice.
Marion County residents will be required to wear masks in public places, including outside if social distancing is not possible. Children age 2 and younger and those with some medical conditions will be exempt from the rule.
Masks will not be required while eating or alone in office spaces.
Hogsett also announced Marion County would remain in Stage 4 of reopening for a few days longer than most of the rest of the state. Marion County will not move into Stage 4.5 until July 9. Masks will not be required until that date to allow residents and businesses to prepare. Holcomb announced Wednesday most of the state would make that move beginning July 4.
Stage 4.5 will put a temporary pause on increasing the capacity inside restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. K-12 school operations, outdoor fairs and festivals, and overnight camps can open.
Other Stage 4.5 changes specific to Marion County include:
- Overnight camps remain closed.
- Indoor visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities is still prohibited.
- Events with expected attendance of more than 1,000 must have an event plan in place, approved by the Marion County Public Health Department.
Although Indianapolis and Indiana have not seen the spikes other areas across the country have, reports of positive cases and hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks. As the state's most populated county, it's no surprise Marion County has been hit most heavily by the virus. Wednesday's report from ISDH showed nearly 700 deaths in the county.
Holcomb also announced the existing road closures on Broad Ripple Avenue, Mass Ave. and Georgia Street will be extending through July 19.
It’s been said many times the devil is in the details. There are very few details about how the city is going to enforce mandatory face masks.
"Is everybody going to have police officers available at stores and retail?" asked Genna Yeater. "It is the retail's job to tell people to leave."
City and county health officials are still working on an answer. Public health officers will enforce the face mask public health order, but it is not clear whether businesses will also be required to enforce the rule or be held accountable for their customers.
Here's what's happening in other states:
The owner of a North Carolina general store was issued a summons for allowing customers to shop without masks.
A Texas woman was caught on security cameras when she went on a profanity-filled tirade. She threw merchandise out of her shopping cart when an employee asked her to put a mask on.
Texas requires businesses to enforce the rule. Cashiers frequently take the heat. In another security camera video, a customer lashes out at a convenience store cashier after he asked her to get a face mask.
In Texas, first offenders get a warning. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $250.
Sharon Galley told 13News the coronavirus killed a close friend, but on the subject of fines for people who don't wear masks, she didn't have an answer.
City and health officials are almost as silent, insisting the emphasis is on education and that fines should be a last resort.
The city, health department, businesses and customers have a week to sort out the details.