The county, which is the seventh most populous county in the US at over 2.7 million residents, started this week fining residents who don’t wear masks in public spaces indoors and outside. Police and code enforcement officers issue the tickets.
The mandate is part of the county’s “New Normal Guidelines,” which in May allowed some businesses to reopen but now include stricter measures like the mask mandate and some restaurant closures. Previously, fines were possible only for infractions that took place within a commercial business. Those fines could run up to $500 and land violators up to 180 days in jail.
Several Florida cities and counties are imposing stricter coronavirus guidelines after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has refused to mandate masks statewide or pause the state’s reopening plan. Florida’s coronavirus outbreak has ballooned since the start of the summer, with over 316,000 cases and over 4,600 confirmed deaths.
Failure to follow the city of Tampa’s mask mandate could result in a fine up to $500. Leon and Orange counties, where state capital Tallahassee and Orlando are located, respectively, have also imposed mask requirements.
The city of Jacksonville, which will soon host a pared-down Republican National Convention, has also mandated masks in public. The convention was moved in the spring from Charlotte, North Carolina, after the state’s Democratic governor insisted on safety protocols including social distancing and mask-wearing, which President Donald Trump was unwilling to accept at the time.
Trump has repeatedly flouted coronavirus social distancing guidelines and has only been photographed in a mask in public once, last week during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, after months of expressing doubt in the efficacy of masks.
Masks and social distancing, or keeping at least six feet of distance from other people, are considered the most effective methods to prevent coronavirus transmission, a comprehensive study found in June.