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HAMILTON, Ohio (WJW)– Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones had a clear message for residents: His deputies will not be enforcing the state’s mask mandate.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced masks will be mandatory in public for people in seven counties with higher risk for coronavirus. It goes into effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday for the counties in the red level of the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System: Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery and Trumbull.

Jones said the sheriff’s office received calls, emails and texts with questions about the new order.

“I want to make everybody understand, I am not the mask police. 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,” he said in a video posted on Facebook.

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

He warned residents against calling 911 or dispatch centers to report people for not wearing masks. Jones said if local health officials want to enforce the mandate, they can go ahead, but they aren’t going to like the response.

DeWine said people must wear face coverings when:

  • They are in any indoor location that is not a residence.
  • They are outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household.
  • They are waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private care service, or a ride-sharing vehicle.

The order does not apply to children under the age of 10 or any other minor who cannot safely wear a face covering, according to the governor.