As COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to climb, Polk County city, Lakeland, will not have face mask requirements for the public. After a meeting this morning among the city commissioners of Lakeland and local health officials, a decision was made to not require them. This leaves the decision to wear face masks and coverings in the city up to residents, visitors and businesses.

At the Monday morning meeting, local health officials appealed to city commissioners to mandate masks and face coverings in all public spaces. The meeting also allowed the public to call in and express their views for or against the potential order.

However, when the mayor moved to push it forward, no commissioner motioned to pass it.

The decision to wear masks is now left up to the individual businesses and residents of Lakeland.

Lakeland would have been the third city to implement such a measure in the Tampa Bay area, following Tampa and St. Petersburg, as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Florida.

In St. Petersburg, all employees are required to wear masks. This mandate spans all bars, restaurants, gyms, retail and entertainment centers, and salons.

Tampa Bay 10 reports that further mask mandate discussions are set to occur for Hillsborough and Pinellas counties on Monday, June 22, as well.

Over the weekend, Orlando also instituted a city-wide mask mandate for all public spaces, with no currently anticipated end date.

While the mask requirement in Orlando will not incur a penalty on those who do not comply, businesses are encouraged to turn people away who refuse to wear a face covering.

Other Florida counties have already had mask requirements in place, including Monroe County and the Florida Keys, who will require masks until at least June 2021.

The 18, 19, and 20 of June saw three back-to-back days of record-high new case counts in The Sunshine State. Florida's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard currently shows 100,217 cases statewide, with a pattern of increasing spikes being seen since the beginning of the month.

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