As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, mandatory face masks in Orange County and Orlando are now required in all public places. The announcement came from Mayor Jerry Demings on Thursday and will go into effect this Saturday. As of now, there is no anticipated end date for the new mandate.

The mandate encourages businesses to refuse entry to any person not wearing a mask.

Section 2 of the mandate states that, in businesses where employees and patrons cannot be six feet apart, masks are required, except if the mask would impede on their services.

Mayor Demings also said that not complying with the mandate would not result in criminal charges or fines. “We want voluntary compliance with this,” he added.

The order also lists some exemptions that will warrant not wearing a mask, including children under two, those who have health conditions that might be exacerbated by wearing one, people actively exercising, and those who have jobs where they don’t interact with people.

Other exemptions include certain industries like transit, first responders, government, health care works, veterinarians, shelter and rehab centers, childcare, utility providers, and construction workers.

In response to how people should deal with the new order in restaurants, Mayor Demings replied, “If they’re not eating, they’re just congregating and socializing, then they should be wearing their masks.”

The announcement follows several other Florida cities and counties that also put out mandates requiring masks in public places.

Other Florida cities and counties with mandatory mask mandates include Tampa and St. Pete, both starting today at 5 p.m. 

Monroe County already has one in effect. The Florida Keys will require masks until at least June of 2021, with the mandate being reviewed quarterly throughout the next year.

Florida as a whole has seen climbing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the past weeks, with 3,200 new cases reported on Thursday. Florida's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard currently show 89,748 total cases across the state.

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