As Florida’s positive COVID-19 cases continue to climb, local officials are taking action to require the wearing of face coverings.
The requirements vary by jurisdictions.
Pasco County has joined the list of local governments imposing restrictions in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles issued an executive order on June 23, requiring everyone in Pasco County to use face coverings while indoors at a public business or county government facility. The order took effect immediately, with enforcement beginning on June 25.
There are exceptions to the order, which include children under age 2 and anyone with an existing health condition that would be complicated by wearing a mask.
Pasco County Code Enforcement is enforcing the ordinance, focusing first on education.
Under Pasco’s order:
- Face coverings should cover nose and mouth.
- All businesses and county government facilities open to the public must comply.
- Businesses must ensure compliance, with those found in violation facing a fine of up to $250.
The county also announced the availability of face masks at several locations.
Those wishing to report a violation should call (727) 847-2411, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pasco County Schools issued a statement in response to the county’s order, noting that while the order doesn’t apply to schools, the school district will require masks or face coverings for employees and visitors.
Masks or face coverings will be required for anyone visiting any district school or work site open to the public, according to the district’s news release.
The county order and school district’s directive will remain in place indefinitely and both are subject to change as circumstances change.
These actions follow requirements imposed by the Emergency Policy Group of Hillsborough County, which voted 5-3 on June 22, to require face coverings be worn by customers and employees in indoor spaces of businesses, when social distancing of 6 feet cannot be achieved.
That order is automatically set to expire within 7 days of its adoption, unless renewed.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor imposed a face covering order on June 19, also requiring masks when inside any business within the city of Tampa, when not maintaining social distancing, excluding family members or companions.
Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees also has issued an advisory recommending “all individuals in Florida should wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible” and discouraging social gatherings of more than 50 people.
The North Tampa Bay Chamber notified its members about the requirements for face coverings, providing links to the various government jurisdictions for more information.
The chamber also offered its members the opportunity to contact its office to obtain some free masks, through touchless pickup. The masks are being made available through the chamber’s partnership with the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Pasco County.
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) also issued updated safety and operating guidance for members of the hospitality industry, to ensure the safety of employees and guests.
The FRLA is strongly encouraging all Florida residents and visitors to wear masks in public spaces, including at restaurants and hotels, and to practice social distancing.
“Ensuring employee and guest safety is of the utmost importance,” Carol Dover, the FRLA’s president and CEO said, in a news release.
“All Florida businesses must do everything possible to contribute to the health and safety of our communities. We are strongly urging all Floridians to adhere to statewide Executive Orders, comply with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and other business regulators, follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the Florida Department of Health recommendations on mask-wearing and social distancing. These collective efforts will help ensure the safety of all Floridians and our visitors,” Dover said.
Information available on the afternoon of June 26 showed that Florida had a total of 122,960 positive cases, including 8,993 on June 25. The state recorded 3,336 deaths of Florida residents and 98 deaths of non-residents.
Hillsborough County had 8,108 cases, including 7,941 Florida residents and 77 non-Florida residents.
The figures for Pasco County stood at 1,326 cases, including 1,314 Florida residents and 12 non-residents.
The median age of those testing positive was 35 statewide, compared to a median age of 31 in Hillsborough County. Pasco County’s median age for those testing positive mirrored the state’s age of 34.
Published July 1, 2020