County commissioners, towns of Winamac, Francesville all order face masks to be worn
As the number of COVID-19 cases increase in the county and surrounding counties, county and town officials are looking at ways to help keep the public safe without trying to enforce too many restrictions.
One way of doing this was to implement an order or an ordinance that advises the public to wear masks when visiting local businesses or structures where business is conducted such as gas stations, churches and even some private residences.
The Pulaski County Commissioners were the first to approve an executive order regarding the wearing of facial coverings that cover the mouth and nose. They met in an emergency meeting on April 30 to discuss the order that they had received to review prior to the meeting.
County attorney Kevin Tankersley said he spoke with council president Ken Becker who indicated that the county should implement something quickly because of the increase of COVID-19 cases in Pulaski County. The county would also be following counties like Cass and White that already put additional restrictions in place because of an increased number of virus cases.
“The commissioners do have the power to implement orders that will protect the public health and we cited the code section in the ordinance,” Tankersley said. “It is almost a balancing when you are restricting individual liberties in the interest of the public — public health. So we decided to limit it to facial coverings for people that are in structures — you are in a building, a business, and we define a business in here. Basically that includes almost everything except your private residence. It even includes part of your private residence if you are using that to conduct business.”
The order states “a business is defined by this order to be any facility, building, structure, plant or other similar construction other than a private residence although any portion of a private residence utilized to conduct business with the public is considered a business.”
Tankersley reminded the commissioners that the order is in effect even if the governor changes the restrictions. It will not be changed unless the commissioners change it. The order was approved by the commissioners.
The Town of Winamac also held an emergency meeting on April 30 as a way of trying to keep people safe and because of the increased cases of COVID-19 in Cass County. The council met by phone.
An ordinance regarding the local disaster emergency and promulgating mitigation procedures was given to the council prior to the meeting to review. The ordinance states that because Pulaski County has declared a local disaster emergency, the council wants to minimize the threat of widespread injury or death. It also states that employees and owners of businesses should wear face masks that cover the nose and mouth along with those entering the business.
It was suggested that letters be given to the town businesses with the council recommendations and the approved ordinances.
The Town of Francesville also approved a similar ordinance on April 29. The Pulaski County Journal was unable to attend that meeting.