What to expect with Indiana's lifted mask mandate
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Indiana’s mask mandate is a mask advisory starting Tuesday. Mask requirements are now decided upon by local health departments. Because of this, you can expect different COVID-19 precautions varying between counties. The lifting of Governor Holcomb’s mask advisory puts the decision of enforcing masks up to local health departments. Capacity restrictions in bars, restaurants, and venues now also to be determined on a local level. However, schools k-12, vaccination sites, and government buildings are still enforcing the original mandate.
LaGrange County is following Holcomb’s direction and requiring masks only as a “recommendation.” Whereas Elkhart County is continuing the mask mandate until May 14th due to an upswing in COVID-19 cases in the past several weeks.
St. Joseph County is also telling a similar tale with cases on the rise, therefore, masks are required until the end of May. Health officials say more young people are being hospitalized with the virus, so mask wearing for these next several weeks will help keep cases down as more people get access to the vaccine.
Still to mask or not to mask, remains just one piece of the puzzle.
“Masks are a piece of the puzzle, so wearing a facial covering that fits snuggly over the nose and mouth when with people in areas that you do not live with is effective when slowing the transmission, but you also have to couple that with social distancing and gathering in small numbers but then you put the vaccine on top of it. All of those things together are what will help us get ahead,” says Robin Vida, St. Joseph County Health Department.
Vida also explains the authority to make these decisions locally is beneficial as these departments know the counties and their situations very well. But even so, people will need to be aware of changing requirements from place to place.
“Individuals one maybe confused what is happening locally, they might be unaware of what other counties are like, and I think coming from other counties who maybe do not have a mask mandate might be not as inclined to abide by our mask order and lastly I think it might add another layer to possible confusion,” says Vida.