JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- As of Monday, Hoosiers are required to wear a mask in most public places as well as outdoors when social distancing isn't possible.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on July 24 filed an executive order mandating mask use after the state saw a spike in COVID-19 cases. As of Monday, there have been more than 62,000 positive cases of the respiratory disease in Indiana since the pandemic began.
Holcomb said the mask mandate is necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as Indiana reopens. He said he does not want to shut the state down again.
"We want businesses to stay open. We want more Hoosiers to continue this trend of going back safely to work," he said. "We don't want to dial it back or put it in reverse — or, as some are, shutting down again. Face coverings will help us blunt this increase."
The order will make masks mandatory for Indiana students in the third grade and above as well as school staff, faculty and volunteers, Holcomb said. All students, regardless of age, should wear masks while on school buses, the order states.
People using public transportation are also required to wear a face covering.
There will be exceptions to the mask mandate for strenuous physical activities, eating and drinking, "medical purposes" and some instances where social distancing occurs.
Holcomb acknowledged that there may be some pushback on the mask mandate, but he hopes to appeal to Hoosiers' sense of civic duty and pride. Originally, the governor announced misdemeanor charges could be filed against anyone not following the mask mandate, but his executive order doesn't mention any penalties.
Holcomb's order says state and local health departments will be in charge of enforcing the mandate, which is set to expire Aug. 26. To read the executive order in full, click here.
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