Masks Still Required in South Florida: No more fines, but coronavirus mask mandates still exist
This may come as a surprise to some, but masks are still required in parts of South Florida.
Yes, Gov. DeSantis took away the penalty of getting fined for not wearing a mask when and where required to help curb the spread of coronavirus in areas like Miami and Fort Lauderdale -- But, that doesn’t mean he took away the requirement. While individuals cannot be fined and hit with citations for not wearing masks, businesses in South Florida still can be.
People who refuse to wear a mask may no longer be fined, but they can’t put the masks away just yet.
Due to all of the ever changing news on mask mandates, emergency orders and more, we’re here to help do our part in keeping you informed.
Are Maskless People Breaking the Law in Florida?
People who refuse to wear masks in South Florida are still facing trespassing charges and are clashing with police. These consequences are happening despite DeSantis' orders to not punish mask violators.
While dramatic maskless issues are overall rare, police in South Florida do say arrests are still a last resort, according to the Sun Sentinel. An arrest, however, means that someone could end up in criminal court in South Florida over not complying with face mask orders.
Broward Sheriff's Office hasn't yet had a severe issue with criminal mask violations, But Sgt. Prichard told Sun Sentinel that "Deputies will continue to educate, warn and as a last resort will take enforcement action."
A West Palm Beach Attorney who represents anti-mask proponents explained that businesses can still enforce mask policies for public health reasons, so when people then don't comply with the officer's lawful commands once they're asked to leave the property the person can be charged with a criminal trespass after warning charge in Florida.
Criminal Trespass after warning can lead to up to 1 year in Florida state jail if the person is convicted.
Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach Mask Rules:
Miami Beach Police Department gave out a total of nearly $14,500 in fines earlier this summer, according to NBC Miami. Miami-Dade county also gave out fines to more than 250 people.
While Miami-Dade county is getting more relaxed on COVID-19 restrictions, the mask mandate is not easing up. Miami-Dade County is going to continue to give out educational citations for not wearing masks, unless there is further ruling from DeSantis.
“They [officers] are going to be approaching, making sure that everybody is wearing a mask out in public as directed by the emergency order and siding those in individuals that are in violation,” said Miami Police Assistant Chief Manny Morales according to NBC Miami. If possible, Miami Police Assistant Chief Morales says fines may still be part of the violations.
Miami-Dade county cities are struggling to enforce mask mandates since Gov. DeSantis continues to not allow fines as consequence for those not abiding by the mask mandates, according to Local 10. Miami's Mayor Suárez is trying to mitigate health concerns with the surge of cases
Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis still recently pushed South Florida into phase 3 of opening and he continues to prohibit local governments from collecting fines for people who violate the mask mandates. Miami Beach police are still handing out masks to anyone not wearing one and they are issuing citations for those violating the mask mandates. It may be possible that fines could still be collected or enforced later.
In Fort Lauderdale, "all facial covering requirements ... remain in full force," according to the Fort Lauderdale government website. All employees and patrons of businesses are required to wear facial coverings - including restaurants when a person is not actively eating or drinking.
Businesses in Fort Lauderdale found not complying with face mask regulations are "subject to enforcement as a civil violation, including the imposition of fines against the offending business or establishments." Find the entire emergency declaration here.
In Palm Beach County, an appeals court ruling on Jan. 27 found that Palm Beach County cannot be blocked from enforcing its COVID-19 mask mandate, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Earlier in January, a Boynton Beach woman who was against mask mandates was arrested in West Boca after refusing to cover her face in a bagel shop. Cindy Falco-DiCorrado then refused to leave the store and was arrested on Florida trespassing charges.
In South Florida, Sun Sentinel reported: "Mask mandates have proven to be a wedge ... with many seeing them as an extension of political differences between mask supporting liberals on one side and conservatives who press their personal freedoms on the other."
The appeals court, however, ruled that Palm beach CAN enforce their mask mandate as the county's mandate "has a clear rational basis based on the protection of public health."
Another 1,868 cases were reported in Florida Monday, Oct. 5. The day before, 1,844 cases and Oct. 1 had more than 2,600 new cases reported.
As of Oct. 5, there have been 716,000 Covid-19 cases in Florida. Nearly 15,000 people in Florida have died from Covid-19.
In South Florida, these are the local numbers (As of Oct. 5) :
Practically everyone has an opinion on whether or not we should be required to wear masks in light of COVID-19 and the Coronavirus Pandemic. But the law on whether or not mask mandates are unconstitutional is pretty clear: Mask requirements are NOT unconstitutional.
Check out a recent blog HERE to learn more about why mask mandates do not violate your first amendment rights.
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Miami Police officer punished for Trump Mask at polling place
Turns out... The Florida Man can even mess up following the rules. Near an early voting polling location for the 2020 presidential election, a Miami, Florida police officer wore a mask supporting President Donald Trump. It's unclear whether or not Officer Ubeda was on duty or not at the time, but he was in full uniform and was armed.
Thankfully, the Miami Police department has said: "This behavior is unacceptable, a violation of departmental policy and is being addressed immediately."
Florida law says that state employees cannot use official authority to interfere in or influence elections.
Mask-refusing moms removed from school board meeting in Florida
Police had to remove several moms from a school board meeting in Daytona, Florida due to them refusing to wear masks, according to Miami CBS local.
Police didn't officially arrest them - but 7 moms were trespassed so they can't return to the property for one year.
"I've never put a mask on my face, and I never will," one of the women - Rachel Cohen- said according to CBS. "It's just absolute tyranny."
We think her stance is, well, quite frankly - absolutely ridiculous. Wear a mask, folks - you could literally be saving lives.