Mixed reactions follow Holcomb mask mandate announcement


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Governor Eric Holcomb said Hoosiers will have to mask up to avoid hunkering back down, but some people have doubts.

On Thursday, Governor Eric Holcomb will sign the executive order making face coverings a must in indoor public spaces, commercial spaces, and transportation services, like buses or rideshares. coverings will also be required in outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible. The mandate, which will go into effect on Monday, July 27 will apply to anyone aged 8 years and older, although there will be exemptions for medical purposes and disabilities as well as for when people are exercising or eating and drinking.

The news saw mixed reactions from people in Fort Wayne.

“It makes sense though because everything keeps going up, so whatever helps,” said Gannon Ocock, who also believes that the state may have a hard time enforcing it. “People are hard-headed nowadays.”

Jeremiah Powell agreed and said that he does not know why anybody would not want to do something that could potentially quell the virus.

“I’ve been wearing a mask everywhere I go in public,” said Powell. “If it’s going to help stop the spread of COVID, why not do it?”

Maria Davis said she sees both sides when it comes to face coverings but that she is not sure how effective the mandate will be if there are some who do not follow it. She also does not know how effective the mandate will be when there are other ways to transfer it.

“People are still touching doorknobs,” said Davis. “You can still get it that way, I think. Then there’s the front door to the use of the bathroom, the toilet, we don’t know if the toilet’s clean or if they clean the sink in the bathroom.

Angela Ingram-Lee said she understands that some people do not like covering up their face, but urged people to find a type of covering and fabric that works well for them. Otherwise, she feels that people should stay away from crowded public spaces.

“If you don’t want to wear a mask, then you don’t come in the store,” said Ingram-Lee. “It’s as simple as that. Wear the mask. That’s not going to kill you. Not wearing a mask is what’s going to kill you.”

Holcomb says people who do not comply could face a Class B Misdemeanor, but that they will not have so-called “mask police” patrolling the streets. They are instead hoping to push education on the virus and ways of prevention through the Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana State Police to encourage people to comply before taking legal measures.

Since Holcomb’s mandate announcement, Attorney General Curtis Hill has issued an advisory opinion that says that Holcomb does not have the authority to criminalize mask-order violations as misdemeanors. Hill said that executive orders are important during a time of emergency but that now, four months after the first emergency executive order, he believes Holcomb should call a special legislative session to consider a mandate, rather than sign another order.

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