Florida’s Monroe County Commission has determined that for the next year visitors to the Florida Keys will need to bring — and wear — face masks with them at all times or face a stiff penalty.
What are the details?
On Wednesday, the commission passed a ruling mandating all people — including business employees and customers — wear face coverings in all establishments.
Violators of the new measure face a $500 civil fine.
The new ruling says that face masks are mandatory until June 1, 2021. The decision will be revisited on a quarterly basis.
In a statement, county spokesperson Kristen Livengood said, “Facial coverings over the nose and mouth must be worn in business establishments and other public settings where there is a roof overhead.”
Children 6 and younger are not required to wear a mask. The only exceptions to the new rule are “for those eating and drinking in a restaurant in bar, as well as while exercising in a gym as long as a six-foot social distance is maintained.”
Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases across the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) blasted the media in May for sensationalizing the pandemic.
During a news briefing, DeSantis — who appeared with Vice President Mike Pence at the time — said that much of the media insisted that Florida would go the way of New York, and see an insurmountable amount of diagnoses and deaths due to COVID-19.
“So we’ve succeeded, and I think that people just don’t want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative, it challenges their assumption, so they’ve gotta try to find a boogeyman,” he said.
On Wednesday, however, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania released data indicating that Florida — which has seen a large uptick in cases over the last few weeks — could become the new epicenter of the virus in the U.S.
Researchers say that the latest rise in cases “has all the makings of the next large epicenter … the risk there is the worst it has ever been in our projections.”
According to U.S. News & World Report, Florida’s cases are on an upward trend, and confirmed an additional 3,207 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday — a record amount of cases. The prior record was set the previous Tuesday with a confirmed 2,783 infections.