Updated July 27, 2020
Over the past few weeks, Indiana has experienced a growth in infections and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. In an effort for residents to be able to return to work safely and to allow businesses to continue to operate, Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb signed Executive Order 20-37 on Friday, July 24, mandating the statewide use of face masks beginning Monday, July 27. The order will continue for a period of 30 days until Wednesday, August 26, unless modified by the Governor.
The mandate states that, unless an exemption applies (see below) or when in a private residence, those aged 8 and older must wear a mask when:
- Inside a business, public building, or other indoor place open to the public, including commercial establishments;
- This does not include private offices, private workspaces, or meetings in which a six-foot physical distance can be maintained between members of different households
- In an outdoor public space whenever it is not possible to maintain a six-feet physical distance between members of different households; or
- Using public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.
Although not required, it is strongly suggested that those ages 2 to 7 also wear a mask. Children under the age of 2 should not wear a mask due to the risk of suffocation.
Any type of mask can be worn, provided that it covers the mouth and nose, and masks can be from a store or homemade, such as a bandana, scarf, or T-shirt.
Dining Establishments and Fitness Centers
This Executive Order does not affect the requirement that employees and staff at dining establishments and fitness centers must wear face coverings. That requirement will extend through the duration of the public health emergency. Further, it does not affect local mask ordinances that may already be in place; those requirements also continue to apply.
The mandate does not affect the reopening date of schools, but students in grades 3 – 12 are required to wear a mask at school and while on a school bus. All faculty, staff, and volunteers are also required to wear a mask. The mandate extends to extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, except in the case of strenuous physical activity and during recess, where masks would not be necessary. If a classroom can be configured so all instructors and students can maintain a six-foot physical distance, masks are not necessary.
There are several exceptions to the mandate, including those unable to wear a mask due to medical and mental health conditions, those who are deaf or require seeing the mouth to communicate, those participating in strenuous physical activity, and those who are eating and drinking or are seated at a restaurant. If wearing a mask would create a risk related to an individual’s work as determined by local, state, or federal relations, those individuals are also exempt.
State and local health departments are tasked with “enforcing compliance through education.” Violators of the statewide mask order will not face jail time or a fine; instead, Gov. Holcomb encouraged everyone to do their civic duty and wear a mask to slow the transmission of COVID-19.
For individualized guidance or more information regarding the Evansville executive order requiring face masks, the statewide face mask mandate, or any related topic, please contact your KDDK attorney.
* Makenzie Mehringer, KDDK Summer Clerk, contributed to this article.