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Business Customers to Share in Responsibility for Wearing Face Coverings
COVID-19 Coronavirus Update No. 167

Hillsborough County, Fla. (July 6, 2020) – Hillsborough County business customers who don’t follow the Emergency Policy Group’s executive order requiring face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus may find themselves looking at a fine, while businesses that take specific actions to inform patrons about the order will not, in revisions made to the order by EPG members this afternoon.

By majority vote, EPG members extended the face coverings executive order, with several new amendments, for at least another seven days. The order requires the wearing of face coverings inside businesses that are open to the public and where employees and customers aren’t able to maintain social distancing. “Business” means any business entity that provides goods or services directly to the public. Non-profit organizations that supply goods and services in inside areas accessible by the public must also require employees and customers to wear face coverings.

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The order allows several exceptions, such as for people who have health conditions, or whose jobs can’t be performed while wearing a mask, or during exercise, among others.

Today’s revisions include:
– Business operators who make reasonable efforts to comply with the order will not be subject to penalties. These efforts include posting signage at public entrances, making regular announcements to customers over a public address system if there is one, requiring employees not exempt from the order to wear face coverings, and asking patrons not wearing face coverings to do so.
– Individuals who do not fall under one of the exceptions listed in the order
also can be subject to penalties. Previously, businesses were solely responsible for compliance.
– The penalty for violating the order is changed from a criminal infraction, to a civil citation with a fine of $150 or similar fine in accordance with a municipality’s civil citation structure.
– In addition to local law enforcement, local code enforcement agencies can investigate and determine violations.
– Business operators or employees cannot ask for specifics or documentation if a customer claims an exception for health reasons.

EPG members also directed that the order should not be in conflict with any provision of Florida Statute 790.06, which regulates concealed weapons and firearms. According to the County Attorney’s Office, F.S. 790.06 does not prohibit concealed carry pursuant to a permit from wearing a face covering.

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group is comprised of three County Commissioners, the mayors from the cities of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace, the Sheriff, and Chairman of the School Board. Authority is granted by Article 8 of the Florida Constitution, Section 125.66 and Chapter 252, Florida Statutes. Hillsborough County enacted Hillsborough County Code of Ordinances and Laws Chapter 22, Article II, Sections 22-23 in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the County’s residents during declared emergencies.

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The next EPG meeting is scheduled Thursday, July 9 at 1:30 p.m.