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Violators of Leon County mask mandate could face fines, refusal of service

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 17:58:38-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County is officially under a face covering mandate, meaning you could be fined or turned away from businesses if you don't wear one.

Signs are popping up all over town reminding people to put a mask on before they enter public buildings, but some businesses said they were taking action before the mandate.

"For us at Midtown Reader, it's not going to affect our day to day operations," said Darrell Ellis, the manager at Midtown Reader. "We've been asking people to wear masks since we started our reopen process."

"We keep masks on hand when we're outside," said Otis Young, of Kingdom Life Tabernacle Apostle. "We kindly give them to [parishioners] and encourage them to wear them. The majority of them wear the masks."

With Leon County's face covering mandate now in place, more people will have to wear masks.

The ordinance states anyone over the age of six and not suffering from an illness or sensory issues has to wear a mask inside a business open to the public, even a church or restaurant.

"I'm going to ask everyone to listen to the mandate," said Justine Spells, the manager at Railroad Square Craft House. "We're only going to have you wear them between the tables. When you sit down and you have your drink, you're more than welcome to take off the masks."

"We have only had great responses," said Ellis. "It really has not been a problem for us in our store. People come in and they're so respectful and kind."

While so far so good for Midtown Reader, Kingdom Life Tabernacle has had a few people want to take their masks off.

"Sometimes people are having problems with breathing, or it's too tight, or sometimes in our cultural praise they get exuberant and want to praise the Lord," Young said.

But, there are consequences to not abiding by the mandate.

If caught, the first time earns a $50 fine, the second offense is a $125 fine, and $250 for any offense following.

"We're doing everything we can to keep everyone safe," said Spells. "We have strict protocols. our staff has been in masks the whole time. we just ask that even if you're frustrated, please don't take it out on the employees of any business, not just ours because we're all doing the best we can as business owners to get through this."

There is no set end date for the mandate. Commissioners will revisit the ordinance regularly and vote whether or not to remove it when cases of COVID-19 start to decrease.