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Masks Now Mandatory in Pensacola Businesses

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8 p.m. The City of Milton is also mandating face coverings beginning 12:01 a.m. June 28. Read more here.

5:23 p.m. The City of Gulf Breeze announced that face coverings will be required inside businesses within the City of Gulf Breeze limits. Read the post here.  

As of 5 p.m. Friday, face coverings are mandatory inside businesses within the city limits of Pensacola.

That goes for both patrons and employees.

“This is something we’ve been discussing and working on since Wednesday; an effort to provide better safety to both our businesses and our citizens, and we certainly expect this to be followed going forward,” said Mayor Grover Robinson.

State of Emergency declaration 20-03 is in response to a rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in the Pensacola area, and ends Robinson’s stance that wearing them should be up to individuals. The order is in accordance with State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees’ recent Public Health Advisory.

“Each business must post signage notifying individuals of the requirement to wear face coverings as required by the order,” the mayor said. “There are several examples [of signs] we have for you – ‘No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service;’ any different types of ones that would be available for you to use in your business.”

In a video statement on his Facebook page, the mayor reiterated that wearing a mask is not a sign of fear or selfishness – or politics – but rather what he calls a “sign of kindness and selflessness” to protect others from getting sick.

And, there are exemptions.

“The order does not apply to children under 6 years of age; a person who has one or more medical conditions or disabilities that prevent wearing a face covering,” said Robinson. “It also applies to an individual who is obtaining a service involving their nose or face, for which temporary removal of the face mask covering is necessary to perform the service.”

Other exemptions include eating and drinking at public establishments, along with private homes and vehicles.

“If you’re riding with people from outside your family unit, you may wear a mask; but outside of that if you’re riding by yourself or anyone within your family, this certainly does not apply to vehicles,” said the mayor. “It also does not apply to state, federal, or county buildings or services like [Escambia County Area Transit] that operate within the city limits.”

Some are taking the advice that face coverings can reduce the spread of COVID-19, while others see them as a government intrusion. Scott Shalley, CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, says it’s unfair to make store employees police the mask mandates, which vary greatly from one county to the next.

“The mask issue, in and of itself, has shown itself to be very volatile. There is definitely, for some people, a political component to it,” said Shalley. “We really don’t think our sales associates, who are on the front lines providing services to Floridians, should be the ones to be in the middle of that battleground.”

In his closing remarks, Robinson outlined the bottom line.

“We don’t want to close any more businesses; this is not where we want to go,” Robinson said. “But clearly, we have concerns about what we’re going on with our health. And in order for us to effectively work and maintain opening, we need your compliance with the orders so we can continue moving forward.”

More information is at cityofpensacola.com, and on Mayor Grover Robinson’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the mask movement appears in limbo at the state level, with Gov. Ron DeSantis continuing to stop short of ordering mandatory face coverings in public – as 15 other governors have already done.

“The beginning of May, when we did Phase-1, [we] advised all Floridians that if you can’t socially distance, wear a mask – particularly if you’re in businesses that are face-to-face that have close contact – to protect yourself and others.”

Speaking in Fort Myers on Friday, the governor urged Floridians to avoid what he and state health officials call the “Three C’s.”

  • Close spaces with poor ventilation;
  • Crowded places with many people nearby, and
  • Close contact settings, such as close conversations

“If you’re at a private home, no outdoor air, shoulder-to-shoulder with close contact touching or talking, that’s going to be a bigger risk for transmission.”
Also on Friday, Florida joined Texas in reclosing bars, as infections and hospitalizations from coronavirus spike in both states. And in case you’re wondering, Florida’s order affects the Flora-Bama Lounge – where part of the restaurant is in Alabama, but the bar itself is over the line in the Sunshine State.                              

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.