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Elkhart County Drops Fines For Face Mask Non-Compliance

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Elkhart County Commissioners today voted to drop the potential for fines for non-compliance with the county's face mask health order.

Businesses that violate the county’s COVID-19 health orders will now only be issued a verbal warning for a first offense, followed by a written warning for further offenses. 

 

Elkhart County attorney Steven Olsen said the Commissioners' amendment won't affect directives calling for county residents to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and adhere to other safety protocols. 

 

“It does not modify any mitigation directives, it simply changes the level of local government oversight necessary,” Olsen said.

 

The county is also bringing its guidance in sync with the state's current guidance as it relates to the size of social gatherings. The health department's amended COVID-19 order, approved Monday, will allow gathering size to be based on the county’s state advisory level. Previously, any event or gathering with more than 25 people needed the health department’s approval.

County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait says the county’s COVID-19 situation is “still fragile,” and asked citizens to continue following mitigation strategies, even as numbers decline.

(You can read more in the release below.) 
 
                                                                                   The Elkhart County Commissioners and Elkhart
County Health Officer continue to work together as they evaluate the level of local government
involvement necessary to address COVID-19 in Elkhart County. This morning, Dr. Bethany A. Wait executed the First Amendment to Public Health Order 06-2020. This health order amendment serves to further align the local public health order with the restrictions required by Governor Holcomb’s executive orders. Following the health order amendment, the number of individuals able to attend a social gathering or event without advanced Elkhart County Health Department approval will be determined by the parameters set forth in Governor Holcomb’s executive order. Dr. Wait notes: “The health department remains willing to answer questions about your plans, even for smaller events. Please continue to stay vigilant and hold fast to our mitigation efforts as it is working to control the spread of COVID-19.”
At the Commissioners’ meeting this morning, the Commissioners approved an amendment to

Restated Ordinance No. 2020-38. The ordinance amendment removes the fine structure
previously contained as a part of the incremental enforcement measures. “We are happy to see
Elkhart County reach this point, where the previous level of local government oversight is no
longer necessary,” added Frank Lucchese. Following the ordinance amendment, Elkhart County
officials will continue to educate and encourage businesses as they develop and enforce their
COVID-19 Response Plans. “Thank you to Elkhart County for responding in such a way that no
citation orders or fines were ever issued,” stated Suzanne Weirick.
 
These amendments were made in response to the diligent efforts of Elkhart County businesses
and community members to independently implement the COVID-19 mitigation directives
established by Governor Holcomb and confirmed by Public Health Order 06-2020. The two
amendments approved today do not contradict or lessen the restrictions required by Governor
Holcomb’s Executive Order 21-06, as confirmed in Public Health Order 06-2020. Instead, the
amendments reduce the level of governmental oversight exercised in Elkhart County. The
amendments both go into effect at 12:01 am on March 9, 2021.

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