TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – For months at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many Florida counties required masks for those going into stores and restaurants. But since Gov. Ron DeSantis reopened the state over the summer, many cities and counties have relaxed their mask requirements.
Florida is one of 12 states that have partial mandates on wearing face masks. All other states require face masks, except for South Dakota which has no face mask requirements.
DeSantis has repeatedly said there are no plans to issue a statewide mask mandate, but some cities and counties are still bracing for the holiday season and expecting many people to forget about social distancing guidelines.
So which local governments are still enforcing face mask policy ahead of a busy season?
Five Florida mayors, including St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman met Wednesday to urge DeSantis to change his approach on the pandemic ahead of the holiday season.
“We are concerned. The numbers are moving in the wrong direction,” Kriseman said earlier in the week. “While reports we get as far as hospitalizations aren’t at a point where our hospitals are being stretched thin — if our numbers continue to climb, I don’t think that situation isn’t going to remain.”
More than 7,000 new cases were reported in Florida as the state closed in on 900,000 total cases since spring. Meanwhile, local and federal public health experts continued to stress the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to encourage small gatherings and the use of masks in its Thanksgiving guidelines. The CDC recommends these suggestions for a safe Thanksgiving:
- Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19 and store it when you’re eating or drinking.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.
- Keep hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol available and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.
- Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
- Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
- Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
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