Ordinance passes to fine Elkhart businesses for not following mask ordinance

NOW: Ordinance passes to fine Elkhart businesses for not following mask ordinance

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ELKHART, Ind.--- Elkhart's Common Council passed an ordinance to fine businesses that don't comply with the county's mask mandate. The measure passed on a 7-2 vote with an amendment that lowered the amount of fines that could be enforced.

"It was a good opportunity for us to make sure that were showing support as it relates to enforcement inside the city," said Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson. "This is an opportunity to educate."

Some small business owners feel the ordinance won't affect them because of how they've already followed protocols.

"We’ve complied with rules, antiseptic, facemasks, but that has come naturally for people that come in here," said Amy Fassler, who owns Stash Boutique Consignment on Main Street. "I’ve had no problems with that situation," 

The ordinance will issue a written correspondence on the first offense, a formal warning on the second offense, a $100 fine on the third offense and a $250 fine on the fourth offense. 

Some worry that the size of the fines will disproportionately affect how big and small businesses view the original countywide mask ordinance.

"That’s a big catch 22 there, there’s people that will comply and there’s people that won’t comply," said Fassler, "The people that won’t comply, of course we’re going to lose their business and that is a big impact on a small business."

City officials say putting some form of disciplinary action is a huge step forward when it comes to making sure people in Elkhart take the mask ordinance seriously to help slow the spread of COVID in Elkhart.

"We will be able to hopefully have the opportunity to speak to all of the businesses and entities before any fines are levied and that’s what we want to do," said Roberson.

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