Alachua County businesses must display signage indicating that face masks are required to be worn indoors or face citation from code enforcement.
"Our code staff are out there working to get signs out and talk to business owners and managers letting them know that know the new emergency order requires them to post that sign," Carl Smart, acting deputy county manager for Public Safety and Community Support Services, told the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday. "And to still encourage employees and their customers to wear their masks indoors."
According to Smart, Alachua County code enforcement have "been getting complaints, so we are at the point where enforcement is needed."
Up until this week, code officers have been focused on educating businesses owners and passing out signage to display.
"They documented 487 locations where they have visited and given signs to be posted," Smart said. "Now they're circling back to make sure those signs are posted."
According to Emergency Order 2021-25, which the BOCC voted to extend for another week, "The County shall enforce the first violation of section 3 of this Emergency Order through a fine of $125.00 to the violator. The second violation of section 3 of this Emergency Order shall be subject to a fine of $250.00 to the violator. All subsequent violations of section 3 of this Order shall constitute a Class V violation under Art. II, Chapt. 24 of the Alachua County Code of Ordinances, requiring a mandatory court appearance and subject to a fine not to exceed $500.00. The municipalities may enforce this Order as provided by Florida law and municipal code."
The order states that "A face mask shall be worn in all indoor places when there are more than two people present, Face masks shall not be required for children under six."
By definition of the order, public places are "where the public gathers inside, including businesses, non-profit entities and similar organizations."
Smart said that signs are available at city halls throughout Alachua County or they can be downloaded and printed out.
"Signs were delivered there immediately following issuance of the emergency order," Smart said about city halls.