People in Palm Beach County will be required to wear masks in public beginning on Thursday morning.
The rules, which the county commission approved unanimously on Tuesday, will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
The county’s attorney was still reviewing an order outlining the requirements late Wednesday. However, these are the major points:
-Facial coverings must be worn indoors, including stores and restaurants, and they must be worn outdoors where social distancing is not possible.
-Plastic facial shields, without masks, are permitted.
-Children ages 2 and under;
-Children at a childcare or daycare facility;
-People who are prohibited from wearing facial coverings by federal or state safety regulations;
-Public safety personnel that have personal protective equipment;
-People exercising or maintaining physical distancing, according to CDC guidelines;
-People receiving goods or services in a short period of time, such as eating, drinking, facial grooming, etc.;
-People with medical conditions where mask-wearing is unsafe, including asthma, COPD or other conditions;
-People whose religious beliefs conflict with wearing masks;
-People who need to help someone who is hearing impaired or must read lips to communicate.
READ THE EMERGENCY ORDER:
The county has also established a mechanism for residents to report a violation, or to obtain information about the mask mandate by calling (561) 24COVID, or emailing email@example.com.
Violators can be fined $250 for the first violation and $500 for each additional violation. Unlike Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the county’s order does not make any mention of jail.
The draft ordinance also does not include penalties for businesses that fail to comply, but they still must follow state orders.
“The county’s emphasis will be education, education, education,” said Mayor Dave Kerner. “Wearing a mask is an act of kindness” to protect people around you, he said.
The Florida Department of Health reported on Wednesday that 109,014 people statewide have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Palm Beach County had 356 new cases reported Wednesday, bringing its total to 11,536 cases. In addition 495 people have died in the county as a result of the virus.
Medical officials told commissioners on Tuesday that facial coverings are not dangerous to people wearing them, and could prevent someone who is unaware they have the virus from infecting others.