Elkhart County to fine businesses up to $5,000 for COVID-19 violations

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 4:51 PM EST
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GOSHEN, Ind. (WNDU) - As the month of December begins, Elkhart County commissioners gathered virtually for an emergency special meeting on Tuesday.

“This special meeting is scheduled for the exclusive purpose for looking at ordinance number 2020-38, which was adopted yesterday,” attorney Steven Olsen told commissioners.

As a result of the meeting, commissioners voted to approve an amended fine structure that could result in fining businesses up to $5,000 for COVID-19 violations starting on December 17th.

The goal, according to Elkhart County Commissioner President Mike Yoder, is a last ditch effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“This is kind of the last thing that we think we have at hand in our ability to implement is sending this message that this is a very serious situation,” Yoder says.

Its purpose is also to hone in on a fine structure towards businesses or entities who host large gatherings that are non-compliant with county COVID-19 restrictions.

“The focus of this is on businesses and entities ensuring that they are actually following precautionary majors that have been laid out in the public health order. We’re not targeting individuals,” Yoder says.

In this newly adopted fine structure, businesses or entities who do not follow county COVID-19 restrictions will first get a warning. A second violation could result into a maximum fine of $2,500, followed by a third violation fine of up to $5,000.

Yoder says he believes amending the previous fine structure in place is necessary if it means keeping more people safe from the infection and the spread of COVID-19.

“Our local hospitals, our local doctors are not lying to us. This is a very critical situation. Why not implement the precautionary majors as recommended. There is really nothing to lose about this,” Yoder says.

Moving forward, Yoder says he hopes city mayors across the county implement a similar fine structure as many major holidays, dominated by large gatherings, are fast approaching.

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