Do I Have To Wear A Face Mask? What You Need To Know About Indiana's New Mandate

Jul 23, 2020

Masks are required in indoor public spaces, commercial entities or transportation services - like taxis, ride sharing services and public transportation.
Credit Lauren Chapman / IPB News

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday Indiana would join neighboring states in a statewide mask mandate, starting Monday, July 27.

When am I required to wear a mask?

Masks are required in indoor public spaces, commercial entities or transportation services – like taxis, ride sharing services and public transportation. Masks are also required in outside public spaces when you cannot socially distance – maintain at least six feet of distance. 

Masks in schools are required for third grade and older, faculty and staff, volunteers and anyone else in schools. Face masks are also required for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Who is supposed to wear a mask? 

Anyone 8-years-old or older. Though, masks are strongly recommended for ages 2-7.

Are there any exceptions for wearing a mask?

Exceptions will be made for medical purposes, strenuous physical activity, and eating and drinking.

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How is this mandate going to be enforced? 

Not wearing a mask is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. However, Holcomb said during the press conference his focus is on education, not citations.

How long is Indiana enforcing face masks?

Governor Holcomb says, as long as it takes. He said the mask mandate is aimed at avoiding reimposing previous COVID-19 limitations. 

Why is Indiana mandating face masks?

The governor’s office said contributing factors were getting students back to school, the recent increase in COVID-19 positivity rates, the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and outbreaks in neighboring states. 

Do face masks actually work?

Yes. Face masks prevent you from spreading respiratory droplets to others. According to the Indiana State Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said some studies suggest wearing a mask reduces the likelihood of transmitting COVID-19 by up to 80 percent.

However, that is only effective if you are properly wearing a face mask: face masks should fit snugly to the sides of your face, covering your nose and mouth, and secured under your chin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said “cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when cloth face coverings are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.”

This story will be updated after Gov. Eric Holcomb signs the mandate’s executive order.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.