Florida businesses can still require masks despite lift of COVID-19 restrictions
ORLANDO, Fla. - To mask or not to mask? The debate never really died down but after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order eliminating local emergency COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, many seem to be split on what to do.
FOX 35 News looked into the executive order filed on March 3, 2020, and found out it will remain up to each private business whether or not they would like to enforce mask-wearing.
This means it’s up to the owners if they would like their customers to wear a mask and practice social distancing. They can and they can ask you to leave if you don’t comply.
"You want safety first, right?" asked Howard Gumbs, who was happily smoking a cigar inside Corona Cigar Co.
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Gumbs said he is glad he has the choice whether or not he chooses to mask up or not. Regardless, inside a cigar establishment, bar or restaurant, it’s tough to use a mask when you’re eating or drinking.
"We still do the whole protocol of like we keep the alcohol and spray and stuff like that," Gumbs said, showing a spray bottle filled with an alcohol solution.
The executive order gives the choice of mask-wearing back to private businesses and people out in public. That news came as a relief to the owner of Corona Cigar Company, Jeff Borysiewicz.
"It just gave people a personal choice and make up their mind whether they want to wear a mask or not," Borysiewicz said.
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He is vocal about his opinions on the Governor’s decisions during COVID-19, adding that he believes Florida has come out ahead when it comes to the economy and his own business -- considering the pandemic hit every business owner across the world.
"I really like the government goes back to adults making their own choice," he said with a bar filled with unmasked men and women.
Other business owners though think it’s far too soon to stop taking precautions.
"Having this mask mandate off is a little scary right now," said Sunny Corda, who owns two restaurants just doors down from the cigar bar.
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He said he thinks about his at-risk family members, his staff, customers, and also his family back home in India enduring a massive outbreak of the coronavirus.
He said the country lifted emergency precautions before they should have. He doesn’t want the same to happen to Florida.
"It's hard right now, so let’s see how things go along," he said, adding that he is not lifting his mask requirements.
His customers appeared to be siding with him, despite the vaccine rollout.
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"I don't think enough is known yet. There are variants. I just don't think there is enough known yet," said a customer.
Immediately after the Governor announced the executive order on Monday, the Florida Department of Education clarified that the order does not extend to Florida schools. Each district will make its own decision on how to enforce mask-wearing.
As of Tuesday, all school districts in Central Florida are still requiring masks.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.