Mask Mandate FAQs
What does a Public Health Order for a mask mandate do?
The Public Health Order allows for the local health department to enforce the use of masks for all residents and visitors to the city of Fishers, outside of exceptions and exclusions.
Why did the health department decide to issue a Public Health Order for a mask mandate?
Based on the data the Fishers Health Department has access to (available publicly here), the community has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. As a result of this increase, the Fishers Health Department believes that by issuing a mandate for residents and visitors to wear a face-covering outside of a private residence, Fishers will begin to see a decrease in the spread of COVID-19. Decreasing the incidents and spread of COVID-19 in the community is essential for keeping business and schools open.
The following are two studies used by the Health Department and the Board of Health to inform their decision for masks:
- The Lancet: Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- HealthAffairs: Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US
See the presentation provided to City Council with background and logic behind the Order.
Does the Fishers Health Department have the authority to mandate masks?
The Fishers Health Department is managed by a board of health whose powers and duties include, but are not limited to
- taking any action authorized by statute or rule of the state department to control communicable diseases (See Ind. Code §§16-20-1-21 and 16-20-4-18)
- investigating the existence of and adopting measures to arrest the progress of any contagious or infections disease (See Ind. Code §16-20-4-19)
Additionally, the Department is led by a local health officer (Dr. Indy Lane) who, subject to confirmation by the City Council, is appointed to serve as the executive officer of the Department. Among other responsibilities, the Health Officer is authorized to enforce the health laws, ordinances, orders, rules, and regulations of the Board and superior boards (See Ind. Code §16-20-1-19), order schools and churches closed, and forbid public gatherings when considered necessary to prevent and stop epidemics. (See Ind. Code §§16-20-1-4).
Moreover, the Health Officer may impose quarantine and:
- (1) distribute information to the public concerning (A) the risks of the disease; (B) how the disease is transmitted; (C) available precautions to reduce the risk of contracting the disease; (D) the symptoms of the disease; and (E) available medical or non-medical treatments available for the disease;
- (2) Instruct the public concerning social distancing;
- (3) Request that the public inform the public health authority or a law enforcement agency if a family member contracts the disease;
- (4) Instruct the public on self-quarantine and provide a distinctive means of identifying a home that is self quarantined;
- (5) Instruct the public on the use of masks, gloves, disinfectant, and other means of reducing exposure to the disease; [and]
- (6) Close schools, athletic events, and other nonessential situations in which people gather.” See Ind. Code §16-41-9-1.6.
Through its Board and Health Officer, the Department has clear statutory authority to enact public health orders necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Fishers.
What is considered a face covering?
A face covering is considered any cloth, fabric, or similar material that covers both the nose and mouth.
- CDC Cloth Face Covering PDF English
- CDC Revestimiento facial de tela PDF Spanish
- CDC How To Wear Your Face Covering PDF English
- CDC Cómo Usar su Cubierta Facial PDF Spanish
Who is required to wear a face-covering?
All people in the city of Fishers, ages 5 and older, shall have possession of a face covering described in the City of Fishers Health Department Public Health Order issued on July 21, 2020. This Order says to properly wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in an indoor place other than a private residence, or when outdoors in a situation where a distance of six (6) feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained.
Who are exempt from wearing a face-covering?
- Children who are less than 5 years of age; however, children attending childcare who are 2 years of age or older are strongly recommended to wear a face-covering;
- Individuals who are hearing or speaking impaired and for whom a mask or face covering is an obstacle to communication (it may important for individuals assisting/working with people that are hearing impaired to wear a clear face shield rather than a mask);
- Individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering for a physical, medical, or health-related reasons;
- Individuals who are alone in a room in a public building, such as in an office;
- Individuals who are traveling in their own vehicles;
- Individuals for whom wearing a face mask or covering would present a risk to their safety while at work, as determined by local, state, or federal workplace safety regulations;
- Individuals who are engaged in a form of indoor exercise that is incompatible with wearing a mask or face covering, such as swimming;
- Individuals who are seated at a restaurant, bar, or other establishments that serves food and/or drink, while they are eating or drinking. However, individuals entering and exiting restaurants or bars, going to the restroom, or congregating in common areas of restaurants or bars, must wear masks or face coverings (this also applies to eating in a public place, such as an individual’s place of employment provided social distancing is possible);
- Individuals whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face-covering;
- Individuals who are engaged in outdoor physical exercise, including running, jogging, walking, or bicycling, if in groups of less than 25;
- Individuals acting in their official capacity as a public safety employee or emergency responder when wearing a face covering would interfere with or limit their ability to carry out their official duties or functions. These include police officers, firefighters and other emergency medical personnel that support public safety functions;
- Bonafide emergency situations in which a person lacks the time or the means to put on a face-covering before entering an indoor or outdoor public space; and
- Individuals who are outdoors and are maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others who are not part of their household.
Is wearing a face-covering safe? It feels hard to breathe when I wear one.
Yes, evidence supports that masks being worn is safe for those over the age of 2.
Do I need to wear a face-covering when I am exercising?
No, persons exercising outdoors, or while walking or exercising with other persons of the same household, as long as physical distancing of 6 feet from others is maintained do not have to wear a face covering. People are not expected to wear a mask while swimming. Physical distancing should be adhered to as much as possible in pool settings.
Persons exercising indoors must wear a face covering when it is difficult or impossible to maintain physical distancing of 6 feet.
I work outside, do I need to wear a mask?
People working outside while following CDC guidelines and adhering to physical distancing of 6 feet do not need to wear a mask.
As a business owner, what is my responsibility to enforce this Order?
Enforcement responsibility does not fall on a business owner. Individuals concerned about mask usage at a business or with another individual may report the concern via the Fishers Health Department’s Coronavirus Hotline at 317-595-3211, on the Fishers Coronavirus page, or via the new Fishers Connect smartphone app.
Can my business deny entry to those not wearing masks?
Yes. The Public Health Order allows businesses to deny entry to individuals who refuse to wear a mask.
What are the fines/consequences of non-compliance?
While there are no fines associated with this Public Health Order, individuals who are concerned with compliance of the Order by businesses or individuals may report violations via the Fishers Health Department’s Coronavirus Hotline at 317-595-3211, on the Fishers Coronavirus page, or via the new Fishers Connect smartphone app.
I have a reason I cannot wear a face covering. Am I required to document or prove that?
If my child is between 2 and 4 years old, do they need to wear a face mask?
While we strongly recommend children ages 2-4 years old to wear a face covering, we do not require them to do so.
What do I do if I go out to eat?
Restaurant patrons do not have to wear a mask when they are eating or drinking at their table or seating area. Patrons are required to wear a mask when away from their table, including walking to or from their table, congregating in the waiting area, and/or walking to or from the restroom.
Restaurants should continue to follow the distancing guidelines ordered by Governor Holcomb. This requires restaurant staff to wear masks.
I had COVID-19 but am recovered, so do l need to wear a face-covering?
Yes. The medical community is unclear at this time if having recovered from COVID-19 provides future immunity.
How will this requirement be enforced?
The mask mandate is ordered primarily to encourage awareness and education of the benefits of using face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19. Individuals concerned about mask usage at a business or with another individual may report the concern via the Fishers Health Department’s Coronavirus Hotline at 317-595-3211, on the Fishers Coronavirus page, or via the new Fishers Connect smartphone app.
Enforcement actions may be taken through the Health Department. This may include enforcement actions up to and including court action.
Outside of masks, how else can I protect myself from COVID-19?
- Maintain a distance of at least six (6) feet from other individuals who are not part of your household;
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty (20) seconds as frequently as possible, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Sneeze and cough in the inside of your elbow or in a tissue;
- Stay home and isolate yourself from other members of your household if you are sick, suspected positive for COVID-19, confirmed positive for COVID-19, have been in close contact (within 6 feet > 15 minutes) with an individual who is suspected positive and/or tested positive for COVID-19;
- Clean frequently touched surfaces often;
- Avoid sharing food, drinks, and utensils;
- Frequently clean communal office equipment; and
- Increase ventilation of indoor spaces, by opening windows or adjusting the air conditioning, as much as possible.