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Posted on: June 18, 2020

MONROE COUNTY MAKES WEARING FACIAL COVERINGS IN PUBLIC SETTINGS MANDATORY, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY

Facial coverings required

To reduce the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the Florida Keys, Monroe County Emergency Management issued an Emergency Directive requiring all persons over the age of six to wear a facial covering whenever away from their home and unable to engage in social distancing. The directive requires operators and employees of business establishments to ensure that customers comply within the establishment. The order also requires anyone six years old or older to carry a mask with them whenever they are away from home. “Social distancing” is the practice of keeping a minimum of six feet away from another person.

A face covering must cover the nose and mouth and may include a face mask, homemade mask, or other cloth, silk, or linen covering, such as a scarf, bandana, handkerchief, or other similar cloth covering. Medical and surgical face masks, such as "N95" masks, should be reserved for health care personnel and other first responders with the greatest need for such personal protective equipment.

The County directive still allows for restaurant patrons to remove their masks while seated to eat or drink and allows those working out in gyms to remove their face coverings while actively exercising, provided there is at least six feet of distance from the next closest person. The directive further exempts those receiving treatments at barbershops and beauty salons from wearing a facial covering if the treatment reasonably interferes with that service. 

The County directive applies throughout the County and municipalities, but the municipalities may impose additional restrictions. By state law, violations of emergency directives are treated as misdemeanor offenses, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. 

Earlier today, the State of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued an emergency declaration prohibiting alcoholic beverage sales for consumption on premises by bars. Bars are considered a business that derives 50 percent or more of its gross revenues from alcoholic beverage sales. The State’s declaration allows restaurants to continue to operate for on-premises consumption of food and beverages at tables as long as vendors derive 50 percent or less of gross revenues from alcoholic beverages. Seating at a bar in a restaurant can still be utilized as long as social distancing of patrons is observed. Beverages can only be served to seated patrons. 

Code Compliance Numbers for reporting violations:

  • Unincorporated Monroe County: 305-289-2819
  • Key West: 305 809-3740
  • Marathon: 305-289-5024
  • Key Colony Beach: 305-289-1212 ext. 3
  • Islamorada: 305-664-6435
  • Layton: 305-664-4667

If an employee or customer does not follow the establishment’s requests to wear a facial covering, the owner or manager can call Monroe County Sheriff’s Office or Key West Police Department to issue a trespassing warning. After hours or weekend issues needing immediate attention can also be addressed to the Monroe County Sheriff Office Non-Emergency Line at 305-289-2351 for unincorporated Monroe County and Key West Police Department at 305-809-1000 for the City of Key West. 

Report businesses violating the Governor’s Executive Order 20-139 (capacity limitations or bars serving alcohol) to the Department of Business & Professional Regulation:  www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/emergency/.

Monroe County COVID-19 related information can be found at www.monroecountyem.com/covid19. The State of Florida’s Executive orders can be found at www.flgov.com.

When a customer of a business establishment asserts that he or she has a disability that prevents the individual from wearing a mask, the owner, manager, or employee of the business establishment may exclude the individual, even if they have a disability, as they pose a direct threat to the health and safety of employees and other customers, even if asymptomatic, and shall accommodate the disabled individual in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the operations of the business establishment nor jeopardize the health of that business’s employees and other customers, such as providing curb service or delivery or other reasonable accommodation.

The County directive issued today supplements the requirements imposed by the County Commission on June 17, when it adopted ordinance 014-2020.  That ordinance requires facial coverings to be worn inside of business establishments. Violation of the ordinance could include fines of up to $1,000. The ordinance has a sunset date a year from its issuance but will be formally looked at by the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners every three months.

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