Governor’s mask order carries no penalties for non-compliance, reveals end date

Gov. Eric Holcomb

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s statewide mask mandate does not include criminal penalties for violations, after concerns were raised about whether he had the legal authority to take that action.

The executive order, which Holcomb signed Friday, requires face coverings for anyone who is 8 years and older in indoor public places, businesses, transportation services or in outside public spaces when social distancing isn’t possible.

The requirement takes effect Monday. The order also contains a possible end date—Aug. 26, unless extended by Holcomb. When the governor announced the requirement on Wednesday, he said he wouldn’t be setting an end date.

Under the order, mask use is also required in schools in grades 3 and up. The school requirement applies to co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, with exceptions for strenuous physical activity.

Exceptions are also made for medical purposes, anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing, strenuous physical activity, swimming, homelessness, giving a broadcast speech, and eating and drinking.

Private offices—meaning offices not open to the public—are also exempt from the order.

Initially, Holcomb said there wouldn’t be “mask police” but violations of the order would be considered a Class B misdemeanor, which could result in up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

But the order he signed Friday does not include any penalties. Instead, it says the purpose of the mandate “is to protect the health and lives of Hoosiers, to ensure businesses will remain open, to allow schools to reopen and operate safely, and to allow Hoosiers to continue to participate in their chosen activities.”

The order says the state and local health departments are responsible for enforcing compliance by educating the public about the importance of wearing face coverings.

After being asked by five Republican state senators for a legal opinion, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said earlier this week that Holcomb did not have the legal authority to enforce the mask mandate.

“Without properly delegated authority from the General Assembly, the proposed order would not have the force and effect of law,” Hill wrote. “The General Assembly would need to specifically and clearly allow for a mask mandate by law.”

Republican leaders of the Indiana General Assembly have said they were surprised by the mask announcement on Wednesday, but they expressed report Friday.

“We are very pleased to see that the executive order he signed today does not include a criminal penalty for non-compliance, and we will continue to provide input in our role as part of the legislative branch of state government,” Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said in a written statement. “We all want to do our part to see our state continue to move forward.”

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21 thoughts on “Governor’s mask order carries no penalties for non-compliance, reveals end date

    1. Almost as effective as wearing a mask–IOW, not at all. Nobody’s keeping you from wearing your hazmat suit when you go out, Jim.

  1. Glad that they softened the “mandate” as a little common sense goes a long way. So we wear a mask into a restaurant and then we can take it off to eat. Does anyone else see the irony in this?

    1. No irony at all. When you are walking into/through a restaurant, you’re less than 6 feet from others you walk past. Once seated at a properly-distanced table, you’re a “safe” distance away from everyone except your server or others walking past…who should be wearing a mask.


      Honestly, folks. Hoosiers are always bragging about our common sense…use it.

  2. Without some form of consequence the mandate is useless. Maybe the Major of Indianapolis will have moral fortitude and require some type of fine for not wearing a mask in public.

    1. Hate to break it to you, but useless mayor Hogsetts mandate doesn’t mean much of anything and isn’t enforceable with any type of fine or any other consequence.

    2. Can we vote Phil an honorary Mask Police badge? Like the grown up Hallwall Patrol with orange sash?

  3. If this helps stop the spread to ANYONE it is worth trying. Absolutely pathetic that so many want to fight against something that likely will help.
    Ok so you actually might have to put into practice being considerate to others-GET OVER IT!!

    1. I really don’t mean to be snarky, but based on your logic you shouldn’t be on the road in a vehicle unless absolutely necessary because you adding another vehicle on the roads increases the chance of an accident occurring that could injure or kill someone. So, no, making everyone wear masks to ensure that not a single additional person gets the virus isn’t reasonable, and your argument will therefore get dismissed out of hand by many. However, there is some point at which such action is prudent. The argument is more about where that line is.

    2. WILLIAM S. —- if you “really don’t mean to be snarky”, then why are you?

  4. This seems reasonable to me. Use peer pressure. I wore a mask for the first time a few weeks ago at a funeral, and I expect to have to wear it more as some businesses like Kroger, Meijer, etc. make it mandatory. I respect the right of businesses to make this decision. If I don’t like it, I can try to find other avenues to get what I need. I stopped going to a restaurant that I thought was being overly paranoid, and started going to inside dining within days of it being allowed and have consciously continued so that, in part, I could leave nice tips to help out the wait staff. So, I will generally avoid wearing a mask if a business does not require it of me, but I’m okay with peer pressure to wear one, even from the governor. I can choose to ignore that pressure, or if I see that a majority of people are wearing them more, then I may choose to wear a mask more not because I’m afraid, but out of respect to other people’s concerns.

    1. Why not take the step of being respectful first? Why do you have to wait on others to show decency and do what you seem to know is the right thing?

  5. What a word salad. If people spent half as much time worring about others versus thinking up convoluted logic for why they shouldn’t wear a stupid mask we might have this contained long ago. We look like idiots to the rest of the world. I hope some alien species isn’t observing the US right now to see how we deal with it. Most certainly they would decide NOT to land here!!

  6. What happened to “we’ll follow the science,I’ll put the citizens of Indiana first over politics”? Not having a mandatory mask order without enforcement and also not allowing state wide mail-in voting”voter suppression ” shows the people just where our “good old boy,oh shucks governor’s allegiances are !

    1. He can’t follow the science because much of the Trumpiblican Party is based on a distrust of science. If you trust scientists on COVID, then you might trust them on vaccines or climate change. And they can’t have that, so we have the current situation.

      And that’s leaving out the fault Constitutional thinking that mask wearing can’t be required. Mandatory vaccination can be ordered by the state. You can be required to get vaccinations to attend school. (There’s Supreme Court precedent for both of these.). Yes a fabric MASK is a bridge too far to infringe upon your liberties?

      The entire “Republican” Party is a sham. The sooner it collapses and scurries away, the better. I’m inclined to agree with the folks calling the GOP a death cult. I’d call them the Know-Nothing Party, but that’s already been used.

      When they’re gone, maybe we can have a real Republican Party that believes in balanced budgets, truly cares about limited government intervention in people’s lives yet recognizes the role that government plays in regulating free markets, and returns to recognizing the role that competence and capability must play in governance.

    2. Joe B: then you be sure and vote democratic in the next election and prepare for the consequences of utter surrender of your personal liberties, cede control over your daily life (gotta wear that mask whether it helps or not), allow yourself to become part of the Nanny State because you’re not smart enough to decide things for yourself. Also be prepared to be taxed our the a$$ as this will all cost a lot of money.

    3. That’s the worst part – the patriotic thing to do is vote Democratic. Biden is wrong about a lot of things, but he’s wrong within the normal bounds. Trump is so awful I held my nose and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and I was/am not a fan of Hillary.

      Can someone explain to me what the current Republican Party is besides a personality cult around Donald Trump? The economic policy is incoherent and the foreign policy is just leaving the world open for China and Russia to move in. This ain’t the GOP I grew up with, at all.

    4. Jeff, nothing could make some of us happier to have “good old boy” politics if the alternative is the Orwellian hellhole y’all want for us, mandating what clothing we can wear. Hundreds of doctors who wear masks every day know that they are only useful in very specific contexts, and it does not include the mandate. They are, of course, being censored by the corrupt press and Silicon Valley for defying the narrative. Proof that we’re already halfway there. If the masks and lockdown orders were so effective, the states that didn’t have them (SD, WY, UT, AR) would be at the top for death count, but all of these states have rates below the national average.

      As for Joe B, your COVID-1984 paradise is precisely why so many of us independence are more than happy to trounce you electorally. Mandated vaccinations routinely get challenged in court, and the anti-vaxxers routinely win. And I’m not an anti-vaxxer.

      You can continue waxing nostalgic for the failed ideology of Dubya and Romney and Kasich but those days are over. Meanwhile, keep ingesting CNN intravenously while you think your flagburning rioting “party of the common man” (AKA, tech millionaires, academia, legacy media) has America’s best interests at heart.

    5. The Republican Party should be able to govern with a consensus of people who want taxes as low as possible yet having a balanced budget, government intrusion into markets and personal lives only when needed, and a foreign policy that encourages democracy across the world.

      That’s not what the Republican Party is today, and we are all the poorer for it. If you think today’s Republican Party cares about the common man, I’d like you to reflect on what they’ve done in the past three years… they passed a tax cut for the rich. That’s it. No improvement on Obamacare, no investments in infrastructure, nothing. I guess there’s some judges in there too, but as noted in the recent Supreme Court rulings, even that hasn’t been much of a win.

  7. I’m confused about the hearing impaired. I appreciate the thought for that as I wouldn’t have thought about them and the struggle to communicate…but isn’t it backwards? The hearing impaired need to see everybody else’s lips to read them, yet they are exempt from wearing masks? What am I misreading?