SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Seminole County on Monday announced that it will require masks or facial coverings at places of assembly, businesses, and other places open to the public. An executive order putting the mask mandate in place goes into effect on Wednesday.
"A lot of people think that this is politically-driven, a lot of people think this is some kind of conspiracy, they think it's the flu," said Seminole County Commission Chairman Jay Zembower. "I'm telling you it's not the flu, it is not a conspiracy theory and it is not politically-driven."
Zembower said it "does not take a medical degree" to look at the historical data to see that stay-at-home worked and limited interaction helped to flatten the curve in inhibiting new infections.
"We do not want to get back in a situation where we are forced by our state or federally to close businesses back down. We can not afford that," he added.
Seminole County has reported 2,506 total positive cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. As of Monday, 1,886 were identified as active cases with 92 currently hospitalized.
The county released answers to what may be possible questions from residents and visitors about the executive order:
WHEN DO INDIVIDUALS HAVE TO REMAIN 6’ APART FROM OTHERS? When in a place of assembly, business, or other places open to the public in Seminole County, individuals are required to maintain social distancing. Members of the same household do not have to keep six (6) feet of distance between one another.
WHAT MEASURES ARE BUSINESSES REQUIRED TO TAKE? Checkpoints, staging areas, queues for the public, and other areas to which the public has access must be appropriately monitored for social distancing through floor markings or similar techniques to assist patrons and employees in maintaining six (6) feet of distance from one another.
WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR PERSONAL SERVICES OR BUSINESSES WHERE SOCIAL DISTANCING CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED? In addition to the social distancing requirements included in Seminole County’s Order, personal services businesses such as salons and barbershops are subject to regulations set forth by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations. Massage therapy and aestheticians should adhere to guidance from the Florida Department of Health. A mask or facial covering is not required by the patron when services cannot be performed while wearing a mask; the service provider is required to wear a mask. The patron is required to wear a mask or facial covering if services are not being rendered.
ARE RESTAURANT PATRONS REQUIRED TO WEAR MASKS/FACIAL COVERINGS? When in a queue to order or before being seated at a table, masks must be worn. Once seated and appropriately socially distanced, patrons may remove the mask in order to dine.
ARE RESTAURANT STAFF REQUIRED TO WEAR MASKS/FACIAL COVERINGS? Seminole County requires the use of masks for individuals at a business, restaurants included. This is applicable to servers, hostesses, kitchen staff, and any employee or contractor at the business.
WHAT IF I AM OUTSIDE? If social distancing can be accomplished by maintaining at least six (6) feet distance between individuals at an outdoor business, place of assembly, or public place in Seminole County, a mask is not required. If individuals of different households are within six (6) feet of each other, masks must be worn.
WHO MUST COMPLY WITH THIS ORDER? Every person working, living, visiting, or doing business in Seminole County is subject to the Executive Order.
WHO IS EXEMPTED FROM WEARING A MASK OR FACE COVERING?
- Persons under the age of 2 years
- Persons for whom a Face Covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition or disability
- Persons working in a business or profession who are not interacting with the public and who are able to maintain social distancing from co-workers
- Persons working in, or patrons of, a business or profession where the use of a Face Covering would prevent them from performing the duties or receiving the services of the business or profession
- Persons exercising, while maintaining social distancing
- Persons eating or drinking
- Public safety, fire, and other life safety and health care personnel, as their personal protective equipment requirements, will be governed by their respective agencies
- Persons communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired and must see the mouth of someone wearing a Face Covering in order to communicate.