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Republican Indianapolis City-County councilors call for end to city's mask mandate

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Posted at 7:49 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-19 20:14:06-04

INDIANAPOLIS – The Republican members of the Indianapolis City-County Council are calling for the city to repeal its mask mandate, instead leaving it up to individuals and business if they want to wear masks.

They proposed a special resolution calling for the following things:

  • Advise the Marion County Public Health Department to repeal its mask mandate;
  • Advise the Marion County Public Health Department to refrain from closing a business or private school based on their mask policy;
  • Advise businesses and retailers that they may decide their own mask policy; and
  • Allow individuals to determine whether to wear a mask.

“The Marion County Health Department has been free to operate without any checks or balances for far too long,” said Councilor Josh Bain, R-District 20. “The fact that an unelected county official can shut down a business, private school, or create a fine with the simple stroke of a pen without any oversight, should be alarming to anyone who cherishes personal freedom and responsibility.”

Their issue with the mask mandate is more about personal responsibility than saying masks don’t work.

“This is an oversight and accountability issue,” Bain said. “We trust our neighbors and business owners to serve on juries, civic organizations, PTOs, and school boards; however, apparently the trust ends there. The leadership in our county does not trust them to determine their own mask policy. Personal responsibility should be the guiding the principal to encourage the mask wearing rather than prosecution.”

With a Democratic majority on the council, it’s unlikely their proposal gets any traction. The state is also still under a mask mandate by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, which would still be in effect even if Indianapolis repeals its mandate.

"President Osili looks forward to reviewing this Special Resolution in depth," Angela Plank, public affairs manager for the City-County Council, said in an email.

The Marion County Public Health Department released the following statement in response to the special resolution:

We rely on science and expertise to guide all decisions at the Marion County Public Health Department, including the mandate for face coverings while in public spaces. Since the mandate was put into place, Marion County’s COVID-19 positivity rate has declined by nearly 50%, allowing our communities to re-open businesses, schools and other public activities in measured, proactive steps.

This requirement is meant to be a temporary measure and its success clearly demonstrates that wearing a face covering, in addition to social distancing, will help us return to the things we enjoyed before the pandemic. Responding to COVID-19 is a delicate balance of recommendations and restrictions. Together, we can protect each other’s health and help our community recover.