Businesses could face fines if they don't follow new mask order

NOW: Businesses could face fines if they don’t follow new mask order

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.-- The St. Joseph County mask ordinance that was approved last month allows businesses who don’t comply with the county mask order to potentially get fined from 50 to 250 dollars, but fining businesses won’t be done at random.

“Typically speaking, there would have to be a sequence of complaints. Let’s say for example if it’s an establishment they get one call or email, there’s not much they’re going to do because staff wise they don’t have the even number of people, inspectors that can go out and handle each of these complaints,” St. Joseph County Commissioner President Andy Kostielney said.

However, if multiple complaints are made that a business isn’t adhering to the ordinance, St. Joe County Health Department inspectors will pay that establishment a visit.

“What they would do is they would go to a business and then they would kind of see if there are any issues and then if there were, they would work with that business to correct those issues,” Kostielney said.

Depending on the extent of the ordinance being neglected, determines what fine would be applied. Complaints made prior to the ordinance, St. Joseph County Commissioner President Andy Kostielney said won’t really play any role.

“It would be from this point forward but quite frankly the only way there would be any punitive measure delivered to a local business would be if they just had a blatant disregard for the ordinance,” Kostielney said.

One local customer, not agreeing with the possibility of businesses getting fined and believes that they’ve done an excellent job with doing their part to slow the spread of the virus.

“They can’t fine for something that you’ve never done in your life. I mean have you ever gotten your driver’s license? It’s like you know me forgetting my mask, who remembers their mask,” customer Ricky said. “They all work together pretty well. They’re pretty well COVID free.”

So far, no fines, warnings or visits have been made in the county since the ordinance has been in effect.

“The end result is they want to help businesses do what they do better, and safely so that’s kind of the intent of this ordinance,” Kostielney said.

Kostielney said that establishments haven’t really been a key issue to the rise in COVID cases in the county.

“I think the work that’s being done by our local businesses have been really impactful in helping slow the spread a little bit,” Kostielney said. “Most of the outbreaks have occurred at a more personal level so I mean really from a restaurant from a lot of businesses, they’ve got stricter cleaning protocols, they’ve more social distancing, face covering wearing.”

County leaders are asking to continue to support your local businesses if you can, but if you see any not adhering to the ordinance to give the health department a call.

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