ELKHART COUNTY — The Elkhart County Health Officer has mandated the use of face masks in public areas, inside or outside, where six feet of distancing from someone outside your household cannot be maintained.
The order took effect on Tuesday.
"Please note that face coverings do not replace proper hygiene, or physical distancing as protective measures, but it does add greatly to the effectiveness of these measures," Dr. Lydia Mertz, Elkhart County Health Officer, said in a statement announcing the mandate. "A face covering will help protect others and slow the community spread of COVID-19, which has been so problematic in Elkhart County."
Elkhart County, with 3,085 cases, has the third most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state trailing only Marion and Lake counties respectively.
"The virus will be with us until we get an effective, widespread vaccine, and we need to make distancing, wearing masks, respiratory hygiene, staying home when ill, and disinfecting surfaces a habit we learn to live with," Mertz said.
The exceptions to the order are children ages two years or less; any individual who has a physical disability that prevents easily wearing or removing a face covering; any individuals who is deaf and needs to remove the face covering to use facial and mouth movements as part of their communication; any individual who has been advised by medical professionals that wearing a face covering may pose a risk to the person wearing the face covering for health-related reasons; any individual who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove one without assistance; those directed to remove a mask by law enforcement; any employee engaged in a work-related activity where a face covering would serve to present or exacerbate a hazard; any individual whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering; any restaurant or bar customer while they are dining; and any individual who is not in an area open to the public and can maintain at least six feet from all other individuals not residing in his or her household.