(INDIANAPOLIS) – Governor Eric Holcomb has initiated a mask mandate beginning Monday.
The governor says he will sign the order on Thursday.
This is who the order will apply to:
- Anyone 8 or older in indoor public spaces, commercial entities or transportation services, or outside public spaces when people cannot socially distance.
- Masks are required in schools for students in grade third and higher and for faculty and staff, and volunteers, and anyone in schools. Masks also will be required for co-curricular and extracurricular activities, with the exception of strenuous physical activity.
- Exceptions will be made for medical purposes, strenuous physical activity, eating and drinking.
- Masks are strongly recommended for ages 2-7.
Indiana’s mask mandate comes after neighboring Illinois, Michigan, and Kentucky have already begun such mandates. Ohio’s mask mandate begins at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Holcomb said in the state’s Wednesday coronavirus briefing, “I know not everyone will be supportive of this mandate. Compliance and enforcement are always in question. Our approach, if you recall, since Day 1, since the very beginning of this pandemic, has an approach of education, of appealing to one’s civic duty and public good. You might even say public pride and being part of the solution. And it will continue to be.”
Failure to wear a mask under the order will be a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. But the governor added that “the mask police will not be patrolling Hoosier streets.”
Governor Holcomb said several factors went into ordering the mask mandate:
- Get children back to school land keep Indiana businesses open and operating.
- Increase in COVID-19 positivity rate.
- Increase in number of Hoosiers hospitalized for COVID-19.
- Additional counties seeing more cases.
- Increase in cases and positivity rates in neighboring states.
“We have, as Hoosiers, worked very hard to get to where we are today. Businesses are open and operating at various levels of capacity. People are getting haircuts, myself included,” Holcomb said. “We’re eating in restaurants and we’re working in all kinds of facilities, both large and small. And if you want to keep it that way, we want businesses to stay open, we want more Hoosiers to continue this trend of going back safely to work. We don’t want to dial it back or put it in reverse or, as some are, shutting down again. Face coverings can and will help us blunt this increase. It has in other places around the country and, indeed, around the world.
“And this is time-sensitive now. It’s that time of the year, after all, when schools are going back. This might be one of the most important reasons, when you really stop and think about it, for all of us to wear face coverings. We’re asking our kids and their teachers to mask up. And our kids should not be getting mixed messages throughout the day. When they leave school grounds they need to see that everyone is doing what they’re doing. That best practices are best for all, by slowing or stopping the unknowing transmission of COVID-19.”