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St. Joseph County City Council tables face mask ordinance vote

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 11:21 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2020 at 11:22 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The St. Joseph County Council met Tuesday to vote on a face mask ordinance, and ended up tabling the issue for 30 days, with a vote of 5-4.

Council members said they would like to seek legal advice before moving forward.

The meeting on the subject drew a large crowd.

In fact, some people had to sit in the lobby area to watch the meeting on a screen.

Health department officials say they believe this pandemic will continue through the middle of next year and said again at the meeting: “Face coverings save lives...The cases keep increasing.”

Four spoke in favor of this ordinance, but many others spoke in opposition saying things like, “You shouldn’t fine businesses in a bad economy,” and, “You are opening yourselves up to lawsuits.”

If it passes, the health department would have authority to fine businesses if they are not complying with the mask order that went into effect in May.

The ordinance would require people to wear masks when they cannot social distance, especially indoors.

16 News Now heard from both sides:

“If you don’t believe in science, if you draw different conclusions from the scientific data and you think it’s not an issue, I get it, but if you do in fact think that wearing a mask will slow the spread of it, I ask you to support this," said St. Joseph County Auditor Mike Hamann.

“But the reality is that people have common sense. They know what to do, and to be mandated to wear a mask, yes take precautions, wash your hands, stay away from people, do the right things but to force us to wear a mask I think it’s a little ridiculous," said one St. Joseph County resident.

“And come back with an ordinance that will achieve the following: require masks that actually protect workers from COVID-19 and allow businesses three to six months to establish workplace safety guidelines to properly fit, test and train their employees," said a St. Joseph County resident.

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