ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — More counties across Central Florida continue to require face masks to slow the spread of the virus. However, there are no penalties or fines for not wearing one.
So, some businesses are the ones enforcing the rules in their own stores.
Greenery Creamery in downtown Orlando has put up signs saying you must wear a face mask to enter, and has had to turn people away who have insisted it was their right to not wear one.
“We did require masks for our customers about a few weeks before the actual mandate,” said Dean Lacson, the store manager. “We just want to keep everyone safe with everything going on.”
Seminole County has joined Orange and Osceola counties to require masks.
Volusia County has not passed a mask ordinance, but the city of Daytona Beach has.
On Tuesday, Brevard County will discuss a mask mandate at its meeting.
New cases in Florida are increasing at a faster rate than anywhere else, data shows. In Orange County alone, more than 5,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in just the last seven days.
Mayor Jerry Demings has ordered people to wear masks when they leave their homes, but there are zero consequences if you don’t.
Lacson said The Greenery Creamery is doing its part to make sure people follow the order.
“We politely ask them, ‘Hey, if you have any mask or face covering, if you can please put one on,’” Lacson said. “For the most part, people are pretty good about it.”
But Lacson said there have been some customers who’ve refused to put one on, even when given a free one to wear.
“We won’t be able to serve them, just to keep the safe environment for not only us workers … but for the customers who do come in and follow the mandate for the masks.”
Sheila Jimenez, who owns 111 Sage next door, said she agrees, especially since medical experts say masks can stop the virus from spreading by 50%.
“The law can only do so much, right? And then it’s up to us as a community to kind of influence each other in a positive way.” She said.
Mike Gagnon, a constitutional attorney, said businesses do have more leeway to require masks than the government does because, if you don’t like the rules, it’s easy to leave.
“You don’t necessarily have the option to leave Orange County, and you don’t necessarily have the option to leave the country,” Gagnon said. “And you do have the option not to go to Costco, you can go somewhere else.”
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