Fines against businesses for violations of St. Joseph County’s face mask order could be in the near future now that a controversial ordinance has cleared a first hurdle.
County Council voted 8-1 Tuesday night to pass a slightly amended version of the ordinance first proposed in July by the county health department.
The ordinance now moves to the Board of Commissioners for consideration.
County Health Officer Dr. Robert Einterz is hopeful commissioners will pass it, and if they don’t, that the council will override a veto.
“It’s critically important now, with deaths three times higher in October than they were in any other month,” Einterz said, “and with the incidence of COVID rising and our hospitals overflowing with patients and really now unfortunately having to cancel elective procedures.”
Einterz first issued a face-covering order for the county in May, and proposed fines in July when local coronavirus cases were spiking a second time. He said the health department needed the “teeth” of fines to compel some businesses to comply with the mask order.