Mask ordinance stirs up debate at Evansville City Council meeting


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Monday night’s Evansville City Council meeting was the center of much debate as people advocated their support for, and against, an ordinance that would require people to wear masks in Evansville. This comes ahead of a separate mandate signed by Mayor Lloyd Winnecke that is set to go into effect on Wednesday.

Dozens of people took to the podium to voice their opinions on an ordinance proposed by council members Zac Heronemus, Katilin Moore Morely and Jonathan Weaver. The ordinance would require people to wear masks when in contact with other people who are not members of their household in public and private indoor spaces. Activities such as driving, exercising or actively eating and drink are exempt.

Under the ordinance, those that fail to comply are subject to a warning on first offence and on a repeated offense, a fine of $50-100.

“Making face masks mandatory by our government as a solution to COVID-19 is neither useful nor is it constitutional,” said one Evansville resident. Another resident added she felt the proposal was an overreach by local government.

“Usually I would want you out of my business, I would love for you guys to find a way to get people to wear masks because I have eyes. I notice that once things start to spread, the economy closes,” said Matt Klees, Owner of Kipplee’s.

For those that couldn’t wait inside due to social distancing, they listened via loud speaker in the hallways and approached the podium for public comment when their names were called.

“We feel like this is infringing on our rights. It’s not the situation that’s the issue, it’s just that our rights are being infringed on,” said Evansville Resident, Trevor Robertson.

“When you talk about personal liberties, there are personal liberties at stake for the people who have to take care of the people who are dying. For the nurses and the doctors and the people around you, for God sake wear a mask,” said Moore.

The ordinance mentions the ongoing fight against COVID-19, citing Governor Holcomb’s declaration of a public health emergency for the State of Indiana and the local state of emergency issued by Mayor Winnecke, both declared in March.

“When you do vote on it, we could be fined $50-100 if we don’t comply, well guess what? I won’t comply and I’ll be the first one and proudly go to jail,” said Evansville Resident Brenda Bregwitz.

Due to the financial enforcement, the ordinance proposed by the three council members is different from Mayor Winnecke’s executive order that goes into effect on Wednesday. To hear more about the citywide mandate, click here to listen to Mayor Winnecke’s full interview on In-Depth with Brad Byrd.

The ordinance is up for a second reading and continued public comment on July 27th.

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(This story was originally published on July 13, 2020)

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