The COVID-19 pandemic has caused thousands of Palm Beach County residents to drastically alter their lives to limit exposure and “flatten the curve”. Unfortunately, the county has undergone a surge of cases after partially re-opening businesses under Phase 2 of Florida’s economic recovery plan. On June 24th testing officials at Palm Beach County recorded 356 cases and by June 25th there were 658 new recorded cases in total. As a whole, the state of Florida showed staggering coronavirus statistics when the Department of Health (DOH) revealed there were 9,000 newly reported COVID-19 cases in one day.
Palm Beach County commissioners have now voted unanimously on a mask mandate in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance requires Palm Beach County citizens and visitors to wear a facial covering in public places and violation of the order will result in a civil fine. Although the mask ordinance has good intentions, it does give law enforcement quite a bit of power to stop you if you don’t have a facial covering. This can then lead into a criminal investigation if the officer has reasonable suspicion a crime has taken place. If you find yourself in a similar situation, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.
Palm Beach County Attorney for COVID-19 Mask Mandate in FL
Are you in need of legal representation? Then we urge you to get in contact with the talented and experienced attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. Our Palm Beach County defense lawyers collectively have decades of practice under their belt and are extremely attentive to the new developments surrounding COVID-19. Despite the spread of the virus, Meltzer & Bell, P.A. remains committed to their clients during this difficult time and will do at nothing to protect their rights and future.
Get in touch with us by calling (561) 557-8686 and we will set up your first consultation free. Additionally, we do offer phone consultations if you want to limit office visits. We accept clients throughout the greater Palm Beach County area including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Jupiter and Palm Springs.
Information Center for Palm Beach County Mask Mandate:
- Are Masks Now Mandatory in Palm Beach County, FL?
- Are Masks Effective Against the Coronavirus Disease?=
- What Does Palm Beach County Consider to be a Mask?
- Penalties for Violating Palm Beach County’s Mask Rule
- Additional Resources
Are Masks Now Mandatory in Palm Beach County, FL?
According to the new Palm Beach County Emergency Order 2020-012, yes facial coverings are required for citizens and visitors in public areas. The order declares that facial coverings must be worn by all persons, unless otherwise exempted, while obtaining goods or services at any business or establishment. That does include patrons or visitors who are simply entering, exiting and otherwise moving around within the establishment. Additionally, employees of businesses are always required to wear facial coverings while they are working.
Palm Beach County citizens and visitors aren’t required to wear a mask in public open areas. However, if social distancing in accordance with the CDC guidelines is not possible or being practiced, then facial coverings must be worn by all persons in that area. This ordinance does extend to the Palm Tran Connections, Go Glades or any other transit service provided by Palm Tran. The only way a person can be exempt from the mask mandate on the Palm Tran is if they arranged a medical accommodation in advance for that person.
When accessing governmental buildings all persons must always wear a facial covering in the building. The order does include any Palm Beach County or municipal-owned and operated building such as office buildings, service centers and libraries. Failure to follow the new mask ordinance will result in a civil fine and a subsequent violation will enhance the fine further.
Are Masks Effective Against the Coronavirus Disease?
As the CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus, information surrounding the virus and how to minimize it changes daily. What the CDC or WHO announces next that will prevent the spread may change, but we now know from recent studies that face masks are one of the best preventative methods for COVID-19. The reason for this is that coronavirus patients tend to fall into two separate categories; asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic.
A pre-symptomatic COVID-19 patient may be at risk of spreading the virus to others before they demonstrate any symptoms for up to two weeks. An asymptomatic COVID-19 patient can transmit the virus to others even though they aren’t exhibiting symptoms for the virus at all and never appear sick. This creates a sticky situation as people who appear healthy could be still be a carrier for COVID-19 and infect others unknowingly.
The virus spreads through close proximity and usually from small droplets that leave your mouth or nose while speaking, coughing or sneezing. So, people who are closer together in small spaces are more at a risk for transmission. To avoid the spread of COVID-19, the CDC has asked citizens to maintain 6 feet from one another. However, this isn’t always possible in enclosed public spaces. For that reason, the CDC has advised United States citizens to wear facial coverings when they are in an area where they socially distancing isn’t possible. The masks will prevent small droplets from leaving the mouth/nose and can significantly lower the rates of transmission of COVID-19 to others.
What Does Palm Beach County Consider to be a Mask?
Palm Beach County citizens aren’t required to buy medical-grade masks to be in compliance with the order. Wearing a facial covering of some sort that snugly overs the nose or mouth is enough, whether its store bought or homemade. Facial coverings can include household objects such as bandanas, handkerchiefs or scarves. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrate examples of compliant homemade facial coverings.
It’s not recommended for Palm Beach County citizens to acquire N95-rated masks as they are in critical supply for health care workers. However, the ordinance does promote wearing a clear plastic face shield in lieu of a facial covering. The shield must consist of a piece of rigid clear plastic attached to a headband and then extend below the chin.
Penalties for Not Wearing a Mask in Palm Beach County
The new emergency order does authorize the Palm Beach County Sheriff and other law enforcement agencies to enforce the ordinance. Law enforcement officers are required to give a warning before issuing a citation that the person must put on a mask to enter a public space. Failure to follow this warning will result in a civil citation of up to $250 for a first violation. A second or subsequent violation will result in a $500 fine.
It’s important to note that the mask ordinance will give law enforcement much more power to stop people for not wearing a facial covering. This could open you up to a criminal investigation if the law enforcement officer suspects another crime has taken place. For these reasons, it’s incredibly important you have legal representation ready in case you’re unexpectedly stopped by law enforcement.
Palm Beach County Mask Law – Visit the official document for the Palm Beach County COVID-19 Additional Directive on Wearing Facial Coverings. Access the document to learn the specifics of the ordinance, exemptions from the mask rule, and what signs regarding facial coverings are now required for businesses.
CDC | Coronavirus Information – Visit the official website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself. Access the site to find out the symptoms, who is at a higher risk, testing for COVID-19 in the U.S. and more.
Defense Lawyer for Coronavirus Mask Law in Palm Beach County, FL
If you need legal representation, we urge you to get in contact with Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. have decades of collective experience we can utilize to create a sturdy defense for you. Don’t go into this ordeal alone and protect your rights by hiring the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. defend you in court.
Meltzer & Bell, P.A. has represented people throughout the greater Palm Beach County area and surrounding counties including Broward County, Martin County and St. Lucie County. You can reach us at (561) 557-8686 to set up your first consultation absolutely free.