MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – Wednesday, July 8, at 6 p.m., a state-ordered mask mandate in Montgomery County took effect.
Governor Mike DeWine ordered the requirement for seven Ohio counties deemed a Level 3 risk. Montgomery, Hamilton, and Butler County are three of them.
Governor DeWine said masks are required in any indoor place that is not a home, and outdoors where social distancing of six feet is not possible.
It is also required when using a ride-share or public transportation.
There are some exceptions including children under 10 years old and anyone who cannot wear a mask due to a health condition.
During his press conference Tuesday, Gov. DeWine said the order would be similar to other health orders, so local health departments could be responsible for enforcing the mandate.
A spokesperson for Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County said that might not happen for every complaint.
“No input from the health department is technically required,” said Dan Suffoletto with PHDMC. “Jurisdictions can enforce that as they see fit, based upon the reading of the order.”
But some police departments in the seven counties believe since it is a health order, that they will not enforce it.
That is the case for the Brookville Police Department, who posted the following statement on Facebook:
“The City of Brookville Police Department continues to recommend social distancing practices and supports the initiative to wear a mask or face covering to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Governor DeWine issued a mandate for anyone in Montgomery County to wear a mask or face covering beginning at 6:00 p.m. on July 8, 2020, while the status of the county remains in a Level 3 (Red) status. Governor DeWine further indicated this mandate will be enforced by state and local officials. This is a health related order, therefore the City of Brookville Police Department will NOT enforce this mandate. Citizens within the City of Brookville should not call the Englewood Communications Center (9-1-1), our non-emergency number (937) 833-4357 or our police department number (937) 833-2001, if they observe a potential violation of this order. If a potential violation of this mandate is observed it should be directed to the Dayton & Montgomery County Department of Public Health at (937) 225-5700.”
The Kettering Police Department also posted a statement on Facebook, saying:
“The Kettering Police Department recommends our citizens follow recommended health and safety guidelines handed down by the State of Ohio. However, this is a public health matter and individuals with complaints about social distancing or wearing of masks should direct them to the Montgomery Public Health (937) 225-5700) or the Ohio Department of Health (1-833-427-5634) not the Kettering Police Department. Officers will continue to educate members of the public about the order when the opportunity arises, but should not be expected to respond unless the matter also involves a criminal act. For example, an individual that refuses to leave a business after being told to do so (mask or no mask) may constitute trespassing, and officers will respond if requested.”
The Mayor of Huber Heights, Jeff Gore, posted on Facebook saying:
“After discussions with the city manager and Chief of police, the position the city is taking in regard to mask enforcement is that all calls regarding the violation of the public health department order that goes into effect at 6pm this evening need to go to the Montgomery County Health Department. Huber Heights like other municipalities in Montgomery county does not have our own health department therefore we don’t have an enforcement arm for the order.
What everyone needs to realize is that businesses currently have and have always had the ability to enforce whatever mask rules they were comfortable with. Everyone individually has had to make their own choice whether or not to frequent those businesses. As of 6pm today I would imagine they will begin requiring a mask upon entry. Please continue to be kind to the employees of our business community. There’s about a 99.99999% chance they’re not the one who made the decision for their employer.
If a business requires a mask and you refuse to wear one and also refuse to leave their place of business they may call the police and in that case our police would respond, however our police officers are not going to be out in the community seeking out violators to write citations.
As always I’d ask that you act responsibly, be considerate of those around you, make wise choices and above all remain safe. Whatever that looks like to you may be different than what it looks like to others, but everyone still has the ability to choose what’s best for them and their families.”
Violations of the state mandate could result in a misdemeanor penalty, but Suffoletto said that will be a last resort.
“Generally speaking, the courts could be used to remedy the situation when there’s an egregious violation of the order,” said Suffoletto.
It also comes the week after the City of Dayton issued their own face-coverings mandate for those in city limits.
Suffoletto said complaints regarding that particular mandate were redirected to the Dayton Police Department, and violators could face an $85 fine.
On Thursday, Dayton Mayor, Nan Whaley, said she was looking to see if that would change.
“I’m glad to see that the governor did make masks mandatory for the seven counties,” said Whaley. “His mandate is actually a little more severe than ours, ours was a civil fine, his is a criminal fine and a little more punitive. We will work with public health to see how we enforce this across the county now.”
Suffoletto said the order is to help stop community spread of COVID-19 and provide backup and more tools for businesses.
“What this is about is to empower businesses to have the ability to keep not only their employees safe, but their customers safe,” said Suffoletto. “This gives the business more of a way to explain to the customers that they would like the customers to wear a mask.”
The state says the Ohio Department of Health will update county rankings every Thursday. Any county that increases to red alert Level 3 will automatically be included in the face-covering mandate. Any county that decreases from red alert Level 3 will automatically be released from the face-covering requirement.