Palm Beach County residents will be required to wear masks in public beginning Thursday morning June 25. The mandate was approved Tuesday for all cities in the county and the unincorporated areas. The ordinance was approved unanimously 7-0 by Palm Beach County commissioners.
The mandate details are as follows:
- Facial coverings must be worn indoors, including stores, restaurants, hotels, gyms, grocery stores and public buildings such as libraries, and they must be worn outdoors where social distancing can’t be accomplished.
- Restaurant customers can remove their masks when eating, but masks must be worn if they move about the business.
- Plastic facial shields, without masks, are permitted.
- There are exemptions for people with medical conditions such as asthma; people who are exercising and still social distancing; while eating and drinking; and for children under age 2 or any child in day care.
- Violators can be fined up to $250 for the first violation and $500 for each additional violation. Unlike Miami-Dade and Broward counties, there is no mention of jail.
- Businesses must post signs with the rules and must comply or face fines.
“The county’s emphasis will be education, education, education,” said Mayor Dave Kerner. “Wearing a mask is an act of kindness” to protect people around you, he said.
The Department of Health reported Wednesday that 109,014 people statewide have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Palm Beach County is among the hardest-hit areas with 356 new cases reported Wednesday, bringing the total since the outbreak began to 11,536. Some 495 people have died, six more since Tuesday.
County commissioners said most people who emailed and called their offices supported their mask efforts, but an angry and vocal crowd accused them Tuesday of trying to regulate fresh air and limit individual freedoms.
Medical officials told commissioners Tuesday that facial coverings are not dangerous to people wearing them and could prevent someone who unknowingly has the virus from infecting others.
Compliance teams will be making their first round Wednesday evening to make sure businesses and restaurants are abiding by the new law. However, enforcement of the mandate will not take effect until Thursday. The full order can be read here.