Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group Votes to Require Face Coverings Inside Places of Business

COVID-19 Coronavirus Update No. 147

Hillsborough County, Fla. (June 22, 2020) - A majority of the members of the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group today voted to require the wearing of face coverings, with certain exceptions, inside businesses that are open to the public and where employees and customers aren't able to maintain social distancing.

EPG members voted 5-3 in favor of the countywide order after hearing presentations from several public health officials, medical doctors, and hospital leaders. The health officials expressed deep concern about a surge in community-based transmission of COVID-19 coronavirus cases, the trend that the majority of cases are now being confirmed in residents under the age of 35, and an increase in emergency room visits. All spoke to the need to take immediate action to contain the spread of the virus, and the effectiveness of wearing face coverings.

The order is effective immediately, with the exception of the enforcement provisions which go into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24.

The new executive order requires that all persons within any indoor location of a business that is open to the public in Hillsborough County shall be required to wear a face covering when not maintaining social distancing from other people, excluding family members or others residing in their home. "Business" means any business entity that provides goods or services directly to the public. Business operators will be responsible for ensuring compliance.

The order provides exceptions for:

  • Children under the age of 2
  • Persons observing social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines
  • Persons for whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition
  • Persons working in a business or profession who do not have interactions with other persons
  • Persons working in a business or profession who maintain social distancing from another person
  • Persons working in a business or profession where use of a face covering would prevent them from performing the duties of the business or profession
  • Persons exercising, while maintaining social distancing
  • Persons eating or drinking
  • Public safety, fire and other life safety and health care personnel, as their personal protective equipment requirements will be governed by their respective agencies
  • The requirement shall not apply when a person who is hearing-impaired needs to see the mouth of someone wearing a face covering in order to communicate
  • The requirement shall not be applied in a manner that would conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The face covering order does not apply to religious services, non-profit organizations, private clubs, and government agencies. The order will be reviewed weekly, at the same time the
  • Emergency Policy Group reviews its declaration of a state of local emergency they declared in response to the pandemic.

In other action, EPG members voted to send a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis requesting he extend his executive order that allows local governments to conduct public meetings virtually.

The next EPG meeting is scheduled Thursday, June 25 at 1:30 p.m.

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