Face masks required in City of Sarasota as of 12:01 a.m. July 1, City Commission decides

Several exceptions approved

This is the June 29 report on COVID-19 cases in Sarasota County, based on data through June 28. Image courtesy Florida Department of Health
This is the COVID-19 testing data for Sarasota County through June 28, as posted by the state on the morning of June 29. Image courtesy Florida Department of Health

On June 29, the Sarasota City Commission approved an ordinance requiring that face coverings be worn in indoor and outdoor public locations and businesses in Sarasota in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Face masks are not required within residences or places of lodging, or when proper physical or social distancing, in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, can be observed, a city news release points out.

The face mask requirement will begin at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 1, and will be in effect for 60 days.

Other exceptions follow:

  • Children under the age of 18.
  • Schools, daycare facilities and non-city government agencies.
  • People for whom a face covering would cause impairment because of an existing health condition
  • Those working in a business or profession who do not interact with others, those who maintain physical or social distancing from others and those in a situation in which a face covering would prevent them from performing their duties
  • Those who are exercising outdoors or those who are maintaining physical distancing in public outdoor settings.
  • Those who are eating or drinking.

The requirement also does not apply when a hearing-impaired person needs to see the mouth of someone wearing a face covering in order to communicate.

The city’s enforcement efforts will focus on compliance and education, the release explains. However, violations of the mask requirement could result in a civil, non-criminal infraction with penalties up to a $500 fine.

“An email and phone line for concerns, questions and more information will be available soon,” the release adds.

Complimentary face masks will be available for pickup outside City Hall from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, June 30, and on July 1. City Hall is located at 1565 Second St. in downtown Sarasota.

The CDC recommends that everyone should wear a cloth face cover when he or she has to go out in public, the release notes. “You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick, and the cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected,” the release points out.

The Florida Department of Health also recently issued a public health advisory recommending that all individuals in Florida wear masks in any setting where social distancing is not possible.