Wood Co. sheriff to refer to health department on masks mandate enforcement

The sheriff says he’s still following the law by refusing to cite or arrest people for not wearing a mask.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn says his office hasn’t handled any complaints since Ohio issued its stay at home order. Instead, his office refers those to the health department. With the mask mandate, the sheriff’s office is doing the same thing.

“It’s exactly what we’ve been doing just like if someone were to complain that a restaurant had tables too close together or too many people in a bar. We referred those to the health department for them to decide how best to deal with it,” Wasylyshyn said. 

Under the Ohio revised code and the state’s Stay Safe order, the authority to enforce violations, like not wearing a mask, can rest with the health department. Those who don’t follow the rules can be fined or even put in jail. And the sheriff says he’s still following the law by refusing to cite or arrest people for not wearing a mask.

“Talks about the health commissioner being the one that decides how its enforced and if I’m in compliance with health commissioner then I am doing what I need to be doing as the sheriff,” he said.

Before the mask mandate, businesses decided whether their customers needed a mask. But now customers have to wear them. And Fernando’s in Grand Rapids even had to turn some away.

“The fourth person, so it hasn’t been too many, but they come up with their excuses like we’ll get to the seat quick but no, you have to have a face covering,” Fernando’s co-owner Kim Mendoza said. 

But most businesses say customers have been respectful of those decisions. And the sheriff says businesses can still call for help is someone refuses to wear a mask.

“That’s a different story because that then is someone who is trespassing if an owner of a business or manager of a business tells someone to leave and they refuse to leave or refuse to comply with the rules then were called in to preserve the peace,” he said. 

The sheriff says he’s had no problems with people listening to the state’s orders. He believes it will be the same with the masks. 

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