MONROE COUNTY, Ind. – Monroe County is hiring four compliance officers to enforce its COVID-19 health order and officials plan to allocate thousands of dollars from CARES Act funding to do it.
Starting Friday night, three officers will be assigned to the city of Bloomington and a fourth officer will patrol the rest of the county. They will enforce COVID-19 rules, like the mask mandate.
County commissioners said bars were struggling to get patrons to follow the health order. Health leaders said this idea was a way to promote health without hurting businesses.
The officers assist local businesses but their intent is to not penalize patrons for not following the rules.
Commissioners approved a contract with Security Pro 24/7 on Wednesday. The program is set to last until mid-December for now. The county will evaluate and then decide if it needs to continue. Compliance officers will be paid $50 per hour and the cost shall not exceed $25,000 without approval.
“They are all going to have plenty of masks with them that they can hand out to people that are not wearing one,” said Lee Jones, a county commissioner.
They will work from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
At night, parts of downtown Bloomington are usually crowded with thirsty patrons. The Video Saloon is still open for business but with a side of precautions.
Their capacity is around 500 people but they are only letting 100 people in at a time for safety reasons. Opened since 1980, this is not how The Video Saloon thought its 40th anniversary would play out.
“We planned on celebrating a lot this year,” said Chelsea Black, general manager of The Video Saloon. “Unfortunately, it is just not safe to do so.”
Businesses are following the county’s health order as best they can. Chelsea Black supports the idea of compliance officers and thinks it will help bars like hers keep their doors open.
“These community members have kept us in business for this long and we want to be able to provide this outlet for them when they want it,” she said.