LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — All residents and visitors in Leon County will be required to wear masks when in public indoor spaces under an emergency declaration issued by commissioners on Tuesday.
Leon County commissioners made the decision during a special meeting.
The order will require individuals inside businesses to wear a face covering while inside buildings. Leon County businesses will be required to post signs about the mask requirement.
Businesses are defined as anything with a roof or awning under which any business is conducted, goods are made or stored or processed or where services are rendered. That means the mask mandate applies to public venues like grocery stores, libraries religious services held indoors and people utilizing public transportation.
The definition of "business establishment" also includes locations where non-profit, governmental, churches and quasi-governmental entities facilitate public interactions and conduct business.
"If it's under a roof, you're wearing a mask," said Commissioner Bryan Desloge. The people in the following categories are not required to wear masks:
- Persons under the age of six years;
- Persons who have trouble breathing due to a chronic pre-existing condition or individuals with a documented or demonstrable medical problem. It is the intent of this provision that those individuals who cannot tolerate a facial covering for a medical, sensory, or any other condition which makes it difficult for them to utilize a facial covering and function in public are not required to wear one;
- Persons in their private rooms of a lodging establishment, such as a hotel, motel, or vacation rental—however, face coverings must be worn in all indoor commons areas of said establishment;
- Persons exercising while observing at least six feet of distancing from another person;
- Restaurant and bar patrons eating or drinking;
- Business owners, managers, and employees who are in an area of a business establishment that is not open to customers, patrons, or the public, provided that six feet of distance exists between persons.
The order also encourage masks to be worn in all situations, including outdoor gatherings, where social distancing is not possible.
It will go into effect on Thursday, June 25 at 12:01 a.m.
Commissioners also passed an ordinance that lowered the punishments associated with violating the emergency order.
Originally, violation of the mask order was a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 in fines and/or up to 60 days of imprisonment in county jail.
Under the ordinance, the penalties were relaxed to make it a $50 civil fine for the first violation, a $125 fine for the second violation, and a mandatory court appearance and up to $250 in fines for the third violation.
The ordinance makes violation non-criminal and doesn't authorize the search of the individual in question. Prior to any citation being issued, the individual will be asked to comply with the order or be able to explain how they are exempt.
Below, you can view the county's FAQ on the order:
Commissioners also said that they're planning to distribute 30,000 cloth mask at county locations. The Leon County Health Department is also planning to make 230,000 cloth masks available for distribution on Friday.
Shortly after the meeting, Tallahassee mayor John Dailey expressed his support for the emergency order on Twitter while Leon County GOP Chair Evan Power announced his intention to file a lawsuit against the commission.
Thank you to my friends and colleagues on the County Commission for your leadership on this issue and to Chairman @desloge for calling the meeting.— Mayor John E. Dailey (@MayorOfTLH) June 23, 2020
You can watch the full meeting below:
This is a developing story. Stay with us for details.