ELKHART – Elkhart County has taken steps to fine individuals and businesses for violating the COVID-19 mitigation directives.
The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners recently approved an ordinance that establishes incremental civil fines for violations of these mitigation directives. The resolution would result in incremental fines for businesses and entities that do not follow the COVID-19 safety directives.
The fines go into effect on December 17 and can be issued by the Elkhart County Health Department, a health officer, Emergency Management Director or other person designated by County officials.
Businesses and entities can be fined for: failure to post a face covering sign at every entrance; failure to create a COVID-19 response plan; failure to maintain social distancing measures and conducting or hosting unauthorized gatherings, meetings or special or seasonal events.
Elkhart County Sheriff Jeff Siegel says he recognizes the difficult issues that are facing the county's healthcare system and his fellow elected officials. Siegel says he has concerns with the enforcement portion of this ordinance and the impact it may have on the citizens.
Because of these concerns, Siegel says enforcement of this ordinance will be left to the officials who are charged with its enforcement. Siegel says his officers will not take part in the direct enforcement of the ordinance, and he is instructing his officers to use extreme caution when responding to any potential disturbances related to the enforcement of the ordinance.
The first violation will result in a written warning. On the second violation, the entity can be fined with the total fine not to exceed $2,500. A third violation would also result in a fine, with the total not to exceed $5,000.
Siegel encourages all Elkhart County residents to continue doing their part by wearing masks and following all recommendations provided by the CDC and local healthcare professionals. Siegel says if everyone does their part, they can render this ordinance irrelevant.
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