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Monroe County Health Department issues mask requirement, limits gathering sizes



Monroe County, Indiana – Monroe County Health Department released new health orders Friday requiring face coverings in public immediately and limiting gathering sizes starting at the end of July.

Beginning 5 p.m. Friday, anyone over 2-years-old is required to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public during situations where they are not able to socially distance from others. The rule applies both indoors or outdoors, according to a press release by the Monroe County Health Department.

Many public establishments will be impacted by the mask requirement, including outdoor and indoor religious services, fitness centers, retail stores, restaurants, bars, hair salons, gyms, campgrounds and conventions.

The requirement does not apply for small gatherings of immediate family members or outdoor gatherings where a social distance of six feet can be maintained.

In addition to the face covering rule, a new restriction beginning July 23 in Bloomington and noon on July 31 for the rest of the county will require all non-commercial, private or in-home gatherings to be limited to 50 people. The order says this includes gatherings at fraternities and sororities on and off IU’s campus in Bloomington.

Commercial gatherings and gatherings at public venues will be limited to 100 for indoor events and 150 people for outdoor events starting July 31. An exemption to the gathering size rule can be requested by completing an application form for review by the Monroe County Health Department.

Starting July 23 in Bloomington and July 31 in the rest of the county, restaurants, bars and nightclubs are required to limit party sizes to 10 people per table. These venues are also required to limit seating to table-top services. Patrons will no longer be allowed to sit at the bar for services. Restaurants are required to increase ventilation to maximum capacity or at least six air changes per hour.

The press release says any businesses failing to enforce new face covering and social distancing guidelines are subject to consequences including fines, sanctions and, at worst, closure.

Some exceptions to the face covering rule apply. Fitness groups involved in outdoor physical exercise with less than 25 people are not required to wear a face covering. People who cannot wear a face covering for documented health-related reasons or due to speech and hearing impairments are not required to wear one.

Anyone seated in a restaurant is not required to wear a mask. Office workers are required to wear face masks in public buildings, but anyone working alone in a room is not.

People who are unable to pay for masks on their own can get free masks at the Monroe County Health Department at 501 N. Morton St., the Office of Emergency Management at 5900 W. Foster Curry Drive and the Office of the Monroe County Commissioners at 100 W. Kirkwood Ave. 

Face coverings are also available at various fire stations across Monroe County, including all five Bloomington Fire Department stations.