Some Central Florida businesses begin removing ‘Masks Required’ signs

Credit: Ed Conlan

You may now be seeing more ‘Help Wanted’ signs on the front door of businesses instead of ‘Face Masks Required’ signs for the first time in over a year. 

Several businesses across Central Florida are getting rid of signage at their front doors stating that face coverings are mandatory now that Governor Ron DeSantis says COVID-19 restrictions can be lifted. 

A FOX 35 viewer sent in photos from a Wawa gas station in Orlando showing that its ‘Masks Required’ signs and social distancing markers on the floor had been removed. The employees were still wearing masks and plexiglass barriers were still in place at the check-out counter. 

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In Apopka, Ed Conlan -- owner of Beef O’Brady’s and Backroom Steakhouse – announced on Facebook that face masks are no longer required for customers or staff. 

"Following Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order, we are immediately doing away with the mask mandate requirements to enter our restaurants," he wrote. "So feel free to leave your mask wherever you like. Obviously, you are still welcome to wear one if you choose to do so." 

As of Thursday, 24 Hour Fitness locations across Florida are back to full capacity. The company announced that it has lifted all of their COVID-19 restrictions, allowing the reopening of amenities like basketball courts, pools and saunas. 

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DeSantis’ executive order does not block businesses within the state from requiring mask or social distancing. During a press conference, the governor noted that establishments such as supermarkets or Disney theme parks could still implement mask mandates on-site. 

Grocery giant Publix says that it will still require customers to wear masks while shopping at its stores for now. The chain has mandated masks throughout the pandemic.

Florida’s Department of Education said in a statement that the suspension of local orders "only impacts city and county governments, and does NOT impact school districts and individual schools," the Tampa Bay Times reported.

As a result, local school officials and districts will determine if and when to lift their mask mandates.

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