Who will enforce the mask mandate in Butler County?

Updated: Jul. 8, 2020 at 7:30 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - The new mask mandate is now in effect in Butler County, but there may not be anyone to enforce it.

The Ohio Department of Health issued the order for seven Ohio counties, Butler and Hamilton counties among them, based on their level 4 ‘red’ status in the state’s new color-coded public advisory system.

The mandate applies to any indoor location that is not a residence, outdoor areas where social distancing cannot be maintained with people who are not household family members and transit and ride-sharing services.

Exceptions exist, for example for children under the age of 10. A full list of exceptions can be found in the order, which is embedded at the end of this article.

The order will remain active for each county until it is no longer in the ‘red’ risk category.

Violation of the mandate is reportedly a misdemeanor offense. But as to who will be issuing the citations, that remains an open question.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said his deputies will not enforce the order Tuesday, adding he will leave enforcement to the Butler County Health Department.

Wednesday afternoon, Butler County Health Department Director Jennifer Bailer said the department will not function as “the mask police” either.

Bailer explained the health department will assist residents in complying with the order with the help of local law enforcement and businesses, just as Cincinnati Environmental Health Director Antonio Young said Tuesday.

But asked directly who will be writing the tickets, Bailer remained circumspect.

“It’s a fluid situation,” she said, “and I will look to the governor on some additional direction on how that will happen.”

FOX19 NOW reached out to Gov. Mike DeWine about who will enforce the mandate and received the following reply: “We hope people will comply. Police or health dept.”

Butler County added 45 newly reported cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, its highest daily total since the onset of the pandemic.

The county has reported 1,637 total cases and 47 total deaths since March.

Bailer explained Fairfield, Hamilton and Middletown are the county’s current hot spots.

“Those areas were identified by the three local health departments based on data analysis of their COVID-19 cases, and we’ll be targeting specific areas of need,” Bailer said.

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