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In a bid to keep us all safe from the coronavirus, Indiana police will now begin arresting customers who refuse to wear a mask in stores that require masks. These customers will be asked to leave the store, and if they do not comply, they will be charged with trespassing, a Class-A misdemeanor.
The law is part of a new initiative brought about by several states to stem the infection rate of coronavirus. These new rules come after a federal lockdown was lifted in April.
Police say that they responded to one such call, but no police report was ever filed. The store phoned in an unwanted person who was not wearing a mask. However, by the time the police arrived, the unwanted person was already gone.
Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio are among the three states that have imposed stricter mask orders after a spike in the number of coronavirus cases. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced that all Indiana residents will be required to wear masks while inside any public or business building. Likewise, masks are required in outdoor settings where maintaining a safe six feet of distance is not possible.
Now, one question that a lot of people have is: Is this mask law legal, and could someone with specific medical conditions opt-out of the mask rule.
The Constitution makes room for such things as emergency situations. Presidents and governors can declare martial law, for example, and while martial law is declared, the Bill of Rights could be suspended. Of course, a president would need to have a very good reason for doing so, but theoretically, during a martial law event, rights guaranteed under the Constitution are suspended.
While the Constitution itself does not mention martial law or the ability to impose martial law, just about every state in the U.S. has some provision for martial law in their state’s constitution. So, if the question is, can rights guaranteed under the Constitution be temporarily suspended, then the answer is, yes, they can.
The second question is whether or not the mask law violates the First Amendment. It can be argued that not wearing a mask is a political statement, and hence it should be guaranteed under the Constitution. However, you can make the same argument about pants, and indecent exposure laws have stood the test of time.
Lastly, what if you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask? If you have a medical condition that makes it dangerous for you to wear a mask for extended periods of time, then you are not required under the law to wear a mask.
Lastly, there are no criminal penalties for violating the mask order. Instead of enforcing the rule itself, police will remove violators from the property only if the store requires masks and only if the store asks them to do so. That individual would then be charged with trespassing.
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