Elkhart Co. Commissioners Rescind COVID-19 Enforcement Measure Aimed At Businesses

Apr 6, 2021

Credit Emma Atkinson/WTIU

Elkhart County’s extended face mask order went into effect Tuesday. On Monday, the Elkhart County Commissioners voted to rescind their enforcement of the mandate as it applies to businesses.

The Commissioners put an ordinance into effect late last year that originally included a monetary fine system for businesses that violated the health department’s COVID-19 orders.

 

Ultimately, no fines were issued, and the Commissioners dropped the fine system in favor of verbal and written warnings last month. With some statewide COVID-19 restrictions ending or being modified, the Commissioners voted to rescind their enforcement measure entirely.

 

The ordinance ends just as the county health department’s new public health order renewing the face mask requirement takes effect. Commissioner Suzie Weirick said the health department’s order should still be respected, with or without county enforcement.

 

“I think the health officer is a professional, and she thinks that this is important and necessary,” Weirick said.

 

Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait said the health department can still do educational outreach out to businesses or entities that don't comply with the mitigation orders, and issue verbal or written warnings if need be. She said the department can also revoke permits that fall under its jurisdiction, like food service licenses.

 

"We're hoping we don't have to do any of that," Wait said. "We're hoping people can just stick it out for the next 45 days and hopefully we can get back to normal after that."

 

In addition to the face mask measure, the order limits attendance at events and social gatherings. But, an approved COVID-19 safety plan is no longer required to host either an event or gathering.

 

"I thought it was very important to continue the restrictions and the capacity limitations but at least to loosen those," Wait said. "I tried to find an in-between, but I realize that not everybody is going to be happy."

 

The order will stay in place until at least May 14.

 

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

 

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