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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Businesses throughout St. Joseph County must require workers and customers to wear protective masks inside their establishments for the foreseeable future. That’s by order of the county’s health department.

Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox says this course of action is better than re-upping a county-wide stay at home order.

“We recognize the underlying need to move towards normalcy to the extent that we can,” said Dr. Fox. “Based on discussions within unified command if there were something we view as egregious that would have warranted superceding the governor’s order.”

The order states people must wear face coverings over their noses and mouths in businesses or enclosed spaces where six-feet of distance between others cannot be maintained. There are a few exceptions, such as if wearing a mask hinders your ability to do your job within those businesses.

Businesses must also provide access to hand sanitizer at entrances.

So far only 20 people have died from coronavirus within St. Joseph County out of 668 that has tested positive. Those numbers are low considering how populous St. Joseph County is. Nevertheless, Dr. Fox said they are exercising a level of better safe than sorry.

“Requiring masks when it’s not possible to ensure six feet of physical distance is a measure aimed at source control to limit the spread of infection from someone who is infected and may not realize it,” Fox said. “Until there is an effective treatment or vaccine, a lot about our normal way of life needs to adapt.”

The order will last through July 4th. Pulaski County put a similar order in place near the end of last week.