INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Face masks will be required in all public places in Indianapolis beginning
next week, despite a recent decline in confirmed coronavirus cases among
residents, city officials announced Thursday.
Mayor Joe Hogsett
said the new mandate taking effect July 9 will require face coverings in all
indoor public spaces unless a person is alone in an office or eating at a
restaurant. Masks also will be required outdoors when social distancing
can’t be maintained, such as sitting in the stands of a sporting event or
standing in line at an ice cream shop, he said.
The mandate for the
state’s largest city follows similar mask requirements introduced in St.
Joseph, Elkhart and LaGrange counties in northern Indiana because of
Eric Holcomb said Wednesday that he would not issue a statewide mask
mandate, but he encouraged everyone to wear face coverings as he delayed
lifting capacity limits in place for restaurants, bars and entertainment
venues until at least July 18.
Democrat, said wearing a mask was a simple way to slow the spread of the
coronavirus and save lives.
“That means, if you
are willfully choosing to not follow this order, you are dead wrong in the
fullest sense of that expression,” Hogsett said. “This weekend, we celebrate
those who did the difficult things to preserve personal freedom. We don’t
celebrate those who whined about it.”
The city has seen
its new confirmed COVID-19 infections fall from an average of 150 a day in
early May to about 50 a day in late June, according to the Marion County
Health Department. The county leads the state with 680 coronavirus-related
deaths but the daily fatality rate has dropped from about 12 in late April
to fewer than two in late June.
City officials said
the one-week delay in requiring face coverings was aimed at spreading the
word about the mandate, which will apply to anyone older than age 2.
Violators could face fines but officials said educating the public about
their importance was their goal.
“If we are going to
see large groups of gatherings of people and a significant number of them
are not wearing masks, we will have to intervene,” said Dr. Virginia Caine,
the county health department director.