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Shop owner says mask mandate is not the reason businesses are suffering

Store owner talks proposal to repeal mask mandate
Posted at 6:05 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 19:06:49-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A business owner on Mass Ave says the mask mandate isn't the reason businesses are suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite what a City-County Councilor says.

City-County Councilor Joshua Bain (District 20) submitted a special resolution on Thursday to repeal the mask mandate in Marion County.

Bain said the mandate is one of the reasons businesses are struggling.

"It's just devastated our Indianapolis economy," Bain said. "All you have to do is walk downtown and you can see what these mandates have done."

Felicia Kiesel who owns Boomerang Boutique on Mass Ave. believe masks are not to blame for the slow down in foot traffic at her store.

“The mask mandate has nothing to do with that,” Kiesel said.

Kiesel’s shop has been surviving amid the pandemic. She’s adjusted her hours and is now selling items on social media.

When it comes to the masks, she appreciated that there is a mandate in place.

“I would like people to continue to wear a mask for my safety, for my employee's safety, and for my customer's safety as well,” Kiesel said.

The resolution would advise businesses to decide their own mask policy. It would also leave it up to individuals whether they want to wear a mask or not.

Councilor Bain says he is not against masks, he just does not think people or businesses should be punished for violations.

“The thing I keep hearing down in my district is 'Why don’t you trust us enough,'” Bain said. “You should trust us enough to implement and determine our own mask policy.”

There is a statewide mask mandate in place, but unlike the county ordinance, there are no criminal violations under that order.

According to the Marion County Public Health Department, one business has been required to pay the $1,000 fine so far for violating the mask mandate.

The health department is enforcing the mandate in a similar way to how they would treat other health code violations. A team is sent to businesses if a complaint is filed.

That team then educates the business owner on the mask mandate and gives them time to comply. If the owner decides not to, then a fine is issued which can be brought to a hearing or paid right away.

City-County Councilor Ali Brown (District 5) is against the resolution. Brown feels some employees may not feel safe if businesses are given the option to create their own mask rules.

"There are so many people who are not in a position to negotiate or compromise with their employer," Brown said. "By saying 'Ok, no one has to wear a mask here, they are putting so many of their employees at risk who may be too afraid to speak up,” Brown said.

Kiesel says if the mandate were repealed, she would find it very difficult to enforce mask rules in her store.