The sheriff in Butler County, Ohio – just north of Cincinnati – said he was “not going to enforce any mask wearing” after Gov Mike DeWine announced a mask mandate on Tuesday, July 7, for counties that meet certain criteria.

“I am not the mask police,” Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I am not going to enforce any mask wearing. That is not my responsibility. That is not my job. People should be able to make that choice themselves.”

Beginning Wednesday at 6 pm, masks must be worn in any indoor location besides a residence and also worn outside when social distancing was not possible, according to the order. Local media reported that defying the order can result in a misdemeanor charge.

The mandate affects counties that have “a very high risk of exposure and spread” of the coronavirus, labelled as a “Red Alert Level 3 Public Health Emergency” or higher. Seven counties, including Butler, were listed as level three.

“It’s totally out of control. It should be left up to the individual if they want to wear a mask,” Jones said. “If someone’s sick, I can understand the mask wearing. But for all of us to have to have your temperature taken, to have to wear a mask, where’s it going to stop?”

DeWine said the mandate will persist until a county drops to a level two alert.

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