Face coverings are now required in West Lafayette to help mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 -- and people who violate that mandate will face a financial penalty.
According to an executive order released Monday by West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, those with first-time face mask violations can be fined up to $100, and up to $250 for a second violation.
“There will be nothing that will make me happier than to look at that executive order and say, ‘Yep, it’s time to get it off the books -- we’re good now’,” Dennis said. “But we’re not going to get to that point until people comply. And if they need to have some form of directive -- some form of punitive measure -- applied to that either willingness or unwillingness to apply, well, we have it now.”
The order, effective Monday, mandates mask-wearing in businesses open to the general public or by appointment, including but not limited to:
-Health care facilities
-Restaurants and bars (the order notes that masks do not have to be worn if the customer is seated at a table or bar)
-Banquet and catering facilities
-Overnight camp facilities
-Hotels and motels
-Gyms (unless actively exercising)
Religious facilities are not included. Masks are also required in West Lafayette city buildings, public transportation (including taxis and rideshare vehicles), and in outdoor spaces where six feet of social distance is not possible.
“One thing we know for sure -- that if you can’t keep social distancing requirements, if you can’t keep six feet between you and somebody else, it’s imperative that you wear a mask,” Dennis said.
Children aged six and younger are exempt from the mandate. The order also exempts "school individuals (including students, administrators, staff, and teachers) on or in school or school district facilities."
West Lafayette’s mask order also references the “unique risks and challenges” at hand with the arrival of Purdue University students next month. The school has its own mask mandate, requiring those on-campus to wear face coverings in public spaces and common areas.
“We need to make sure that we look after our student citizens as well as our static citizens,” Dennis said. “And I have received a lot of e-mails, and phone calls, and texts with people who are concerned about what happens off-campus. Well, now I can tell them: the exact same thing that would happen on-campus.”