A Florida sheriff is forbidding his employees and their visitors from wearing face masks and said that if they do, they will be asked to leave.
There are over 500,000 #coronavirus cases in the state of Florida, and Marion County Sheriff #BillyWoods is banning his workers from protecting themselves with face masks, despite the encouraged federal COVID-19 safety measures. He also says that if his employees want to have visitors, they are not allowed to wear masks either, USA Today reports.
In an email that was sent on Aug. 11, Woods wrote, “my order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn.” Woods’ department is located in the city of Ocala, and the council passed an emergency ordinance last week that required people to wear masks inside business establishments. But on Monday, Mayor #KentGuinn vetoed it, and the council is expected to meet again to possibly override the veto on Wednesday.
USA Today reports that the county set a single-day record on Tuesday for the most deaths connected to COVID-19, with 13 deaths reported. Ocala and other municipalities in Marion County have also instructed officers to not wear face masks in order to prevent poor communication while on duty. Despite the state directives, officers have been disciplined for going against their department. The outlet reports that Florida does not have a state-wide order requiring the use of masks.
Woods says the only time officers can wear masks is if they are working in public schools, hospitals, courthouses, jails or if they are dealing with people who are suspected of being coronavirus-positive or those who already have health complications. Woods says the order has been put place “effective immediately, any individual walking into any one of our lobbies (which includes the main office and all district offices) that is wearing a mask will be asked to remove it.” He added, “in light of the current events when it comes to the sentiment and/or hatred toward law enforcement in our country today, this is being done to ensure there is clear communication and for identification purposes of any individual walking into a lobby.”
Woods claims that the safety barriers that have been built in the offices will protect employees and visitors. “If a person does not wish to remove the mask, they will be asked to leave,” he said. “If the individual is not comfortable with standing and waiting in the lobby with other individuals, politely ask for their cell number and advise them to stand outside or sit in their vehicle and you will text or call them with their completed transaction.”