(SS) Most people in South Florida are now required to wear a mask in public places to keep from spreading the coronavirus.
Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties all have issued orders asking residents and visitors to cover their faces when they’re shopping in supermarkets or other businesses.
People working in those businesses also are required to wear masks, although Broward’s order specifically exempts anyone who has trouble breathing and children younger than 2.
Many cities in South Florida — Hollywood, Cooper City, Miramar, Miami, Boca Raton and Delray Beach, among others — had already put mask orders in place. Most require some kind of facial covering in grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses, and residents are asked to cover their faces when they’re in public.
Residents shouldn’t rush out looking for surgical or N95 masks, which are still in short supply and should be reserved for medical staff treating patients with the virus. Any cloth face covering will do, such as a scarf, bandana, or a hand-sewn mask. Many hand-sewn masks are available for sale online, as are instructions for making masks.
Broward’s order, issued Friday, went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, along with a similar order issued Friday for Fort Lauderdale.
Palm Beach County issued its order Saturday, effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday. It applies to “all persons working in, patronizing, or otherwise physically present in grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, construction sites, public transit vehicles, vehicles for hire, and locations where social distancing measures are not possible.”
Fort Lauderdale’s order specifically lists grocery stores, pharmacies, health care facilities, gas stations, banks, laundromats, pet supply stores, childcare centers, funeral homes and other businesses. It requires that people making deliveries also wear masks.
“It is abundantly clear that the coronavirus is being spread by people exhibiting symptoms, as well as those who are asymptomatic,” Mayor Dean Trantalis said in a statement Friday. “These regulations are being put in place to help limit the community spread of COVID-19 by reducing the risk of exposure in an effort to protect the health, safety and welfare of those who live, work, and visit our city.”
Boca Raton’s order was already in place. Delray Beach asked residents and visitors to cover their face while in public starting Saturday.
Those orders are requests, not requirements. Officials are asking residents to consider covering their faces anytime they leave the house, though it’s not required unless you’re inside a business.
Miramar’s order goes into effect Monday. The city’s police will enforce the order, said City Manager Vernon Hargray.
Like Fort Lauderdale’s order, Miami’s requires everyone inside grocery stores, pharmacies and most other retail businesses to wear face masks. It includes delivery workers and construction workers.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez had the virus but has recovered. He said police officers will enforce the measure but will help educate people before issuing fines.
Business owners are also expected to enforce the rule, and if there are rampant violations, the business may be shut down or fined, Suarez said.