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Osceola County Commissioners added a penalty to an existing requirement to wear a face covering in public by a 4-1 vote on July 20 in response to the continued spike in the number COVID-19 cases and the threat to public health.

The county’s face covering requirement has been in place since April 13, but with cases rising and a record number of positive tests being reported, Osceola Commissioners asked for an emergency ordinance that added a penalty to that requirement.

It passed July 20 with Commissioner Fred Hawkins, Jr. the dissenting vote.

“Failure to comply with the Emergency Ordinance presents a serious threat to the public health, safety, and welfare, and a citation may be issued for such a violation,” the ordinance reads.

The violation is a noncriminal infraction. After a warning, a citation for a fine of $25 may be issued for second and third offenses. Subsequent offenses will bring a $50 citation per violation. “We are in the midst of a public health crisis and doing nothing was not a reasonable action,” said Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “The consequences of maintaining the status quo were grave. The numbers are not going down. It was not an easy decision but it was a necessary one to try and stop the spread of this disease. This action is well within our authority in the scope of this type of crisis and we urge everyone to take the situation seriously. Please wear a face covering in public, practice recommended social distancing and good personal hygiene.”

The following exemptions are cited: Persons under the age of two years; Persons for whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition; Persons working in a profession who do not have any face-to- face interactions with the public; Persons working in a profession where use of a face covering will not be compatible with the duties of the profession; Persons exercising, while observing social distancing in accordance with the CDC guidelines.