As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Escambia County, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson has declared a state of emergency in the city and, as of 5 p.m. Friday, all employees and patrons on any business in the city will be required to wear a face mask.
Business owners, managers, and employees who are in an area of a business that is not open to customers, patrons, or the public, provided that six feet of distance exists between persons. This exception does not apply to employees who are present in the kitchen or other food and beverage preparation area of a business — those persons must wear face coverings. There are other exceptions that are posted on the city’s website.
According to Florida Department of Health State Surgeon General individuals in Florida should wear masks in any setting where social distancing is not possible except:
- Children under two years of age;
- An individual has one or more medical conditions or disabilities that prevent wearing a face covering;
- An individual is obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service;
- An individual works in a profession where use of a face covering will not be compatible with the duties of the profession; or
- An individual is engaged in outdoor work or recreation with appropriate social distancing in place.
The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb across the state, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has order an immediate stop to all on premises consumption of alcohol at bars in the state. This was announced in a Tweet a little after 10 Friday morning.
Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.
— Florida DBPR (@FloridaDBPR) June 26, 2020
Florida shattered its record for the number of new COVID-19 cases in a day, reporting 8,942 new infections on Friday. Locally, 155 new cases were reported in Escambia County on Friday, after reporting 92 new cases on Thursday. In Santa Rosa County there were 26 new cases reported Friday morning.
Okaloosa County Chairman of the Commissioner Trey Goodwin responded to Friday’s news saying that while numbers have increased in the county, there are a “relatively stable number of hospitalizations.”
“It seems older citizens and residents who are in higher risk categories are staying home and younger citizens with more moderate risk are making sure to keep their distance from the most vulnerable,” he continued. “Nevertheless, we continue to encourage caution as we move through this pandemic together.”
Chairman of the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners Don Salter also released a statement encouraging residents to follow social distancing guidelines and reccomendations from public health officials as "we move through this together."
Some local restaurants are also scaling back their operations due to the rising number of cases.
Jessica Wilcox, a server at Taste Tapas and Wine Bar in Fort Walton Beach, said she heard about the news from Florida DBPR through Facebook. Luckily, the business also serves food so they can stay open. The space closed for nearly two months when the pandemic first hit.
"We're still going to continue to follow CDC guidelines, everything gets sanitized — chairs, tables — we wear gloves and masks when dealing with customers," she said. "We're already spread out and everything is at half capacity."
"We're just taking it day by day and see what the next few days bring. Hopefully it doesn't get worse, and hopefully we can stay open."