The regulation takes effect at noon on Wednesday, July 22, but puts off some of the requirements until July 31. The requirement on face coverings is effective at noon, Wednesday, sooner than the other requirements. That sequence follows the same pattern as the health order did, which was issued last week.
In practical terms, the regulation has a status that allows for enforcement and punishment with a fine. Under the county code, the violation of a board of health regulation is a Class C ordinance violation. And a Class C ordinance violation carries with it a possible fine of up to $500. [Updated 11:11 a.m. on July 22, 2020. The board of county commissioners adopted an executive order at their regular meeting directing the sheriff to enforce the health board’s regulation.]
But the regulation approved Tuesday recommends that individuals, as opposed to groups, be fined $50. Group violations are recommended to be fined at a higher, unspecified amount.
Will the rules on masks in the next Monroe County health order include a strict mandate for wearing face coverings when in public? Maybe.
During Friday’s weekly press conference, held by local leaders about the community’s COVID-19 response, city and county officials stayed squarely on message: They’re hoping to have a single rule for the entire county.
It’s less certain what that rule will be. City officials are pushing for the consistent rule to be something fairly robust. Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, said that he and other city officials think “having a substantial mandate is a prudent thing to do.”
Based on Caudill’s remarks at Friday’s press conference, it’s still not settled what that requirement will look like.
Caudill recognized that support for a mask mandate in the county is strong, but said it’s is not universal. “We recognize there are a large number of people who are supportive of a mask requirement, and some people wish it was in place back in March,” Caudill said.
Caudill added, “Others are clearly letting us know that they are not in support of that. So we do hope to find some balance as we look at best public health practice around face coverings.”
The local health order includes a requirement that businesses post signs encouraging their patrons to wear masks, but does not mandate the wearing of masks.
Local officials are mulling the possibility of following the lead of some other Indiana jurisdictions—St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marion counties—by imposing a requirement that masks be worn when residents are in public. But their preference is to get voluntary compliance.
At their regular weekly press conference on Thursday, pushed up a day due to the July 4 holiday, local officials praised Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s decision the previous day to pause his Back on Track plan. Holcomb issued a 4.5 version, instead of adopting Back on Track 5.0.
The day before that, Holcomb had extended to July 31 a previous order halting evictions due to non-payment of rent. As a part of the same extended order, utility shutoffs were suspended until Aug. 14.
The new local health order was issued on the same day when Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. That’s likely due to having been infected back in April, despite having twice tested negative back then.
Increased testing in Monroe County—from a 7-day rolling average of around 100 a day in the first part of June, to closer to 150 a day in the second half of the month—has come with the highest number of positive cases since the pandemic started.
The latest COVID-19-related order from Monroe County’s health officer, Thomas Sharp, issued on Thursday and effective starting Saturday, matches the requirements for Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s current order, except for one.
The one exception: In Monroe County, mass gatherings are still limited to 50 people Under the governor’s order, mass gatherings can go up to 100.
In broad strokes, it puts the county in Stage 2 of Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan announced on May 1, with a key difference: Monroe County will stay in Stage 2 an extra week compared to the governor’s plan—that is, through May 31.
Monroe County’s health administrator Penny Caudill said Wednesday that last week’s local health emergency order on COVID-19 would likely be replaced at week’s end with one that allows barbershops and hair salons to re-open and restaurants to offer dine-in service, starting Saturday, May 16. [Updated: May 14, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. The order has been issued.]
The county’s current order is stricter than Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan announced May 1.
The local order—which was also issued on May 1, and maintained the same kind of business closures and stay-at-home directives as the governor’s “Hunker Down, Hoosiers” order had—is set to expire at the end of the day on Friday.
The new local order is expected to be effective through May 31, Caudill said.