POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Leaders at a Lakeland-based bank want more flexibility when it comes to the citywide mask mandate that has been extended for another month in the city.
Their concerns caught the ear of Commissioner Scott Franklin who got the ball rolling on a motion Tuesday night.
“The idea is that banks need to know whoever’s coming in there, isn’t coming in to rob them,” said Commissioner Franklin to the commission.
The lobby at Bank of Central Florida in Lakeland has remained closed through the pandemic.
Service is drive-thru only.
“Our employees are hesitant about people coming in without masks as well as coming in with masks. We’re trying to balance that,” bank president David Moore told 8 On Your Side.
Bank employees, pre-pandemic, were taught to be wary of anyone who enters a bank in a face covering.
That’s why Moore wants Lakeland city commissioners to make an exemption for banks.
“Give us a little bit of a waiver where people can at least enter the office without a mask on so that we can identify them and then have them mask back up,” he said. “Worst case scenario at least we get a picture of them.”
Commissioner Phillip Walker told 8 On Your Side the banks he visits were requiring masks before the city issued the mandate.
Mayor Bill Mutz and the commissioners directed the city to collect input from local bankers. After reviewing their input, it will likely be discussed at the city’s Sept. 21 meeting.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission extended the mask mandate for the third time. It requires people to wear face coverings while visiting indoor establishments.
“What is our goal post? Because it does feel like we’re continuing to move it. I do think the public deserves to know,” said commissioner Franklin, who is running for Congress and voted against the mask mandate each time.
Mayor Mutz replied that he wants to see two weeks with a less than 5% positivity rate, which is the ratio of test results that come back positive.
According to data from the Florida Department of Health, Polk County’s positivity rate has been under 10% since Aug. 31, but has not dropped below 5%.
“Under 5% positivity rating on your testing starts to show that you don’t have this spread taking place,” said Mayor Mutz.
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