To further protect the public against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Hillsborough County’s Emergency Policy Group (EPG) enacted an order requiring that face coverings be worn inside businesses that are open to the public, with certain exceptions.
The order applies to all persons, including customers and employees, inside Hillsborough County businesses that are open to the public when social distancing cannot be maintained. The order is effective immediately. The City of Tampa has a separate order.
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Face Coverings FAQs
When does this requirement take effect?
The order is now in effect.
What is the definition of a "business"?
"Business" means any commercial or for-profit entity (regardless of corporate structure or formation) that provides goods or services directly to the public. "Business" also includes nonprofit and not-for-profit entities which offer goods or services for sale to the general public in indoor locations.
Where and when does the EPG's order require me to wear a face covering?
Any time you visit the indoor portion of a commercial, for-profit, or non-profit business that provides goods or services to the public and you are not maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet) from others, excluding family members or others residing in your home.
My business is not open to the public. Does the EPG's order apply to me?
No. The EPG's order does not require people working in a business or profession not open to the public to wear face coverings.
What about young children?
The EPG's order includes an exception for children under the age of 8.
Does my child have to wear a face covering while participating in an organized sport?
Children under the age of 18 do not have to wear face coverings when participating in specific activities such as organized youth sports, summer camps, and childcare programs.
I have a breathing condition that makes me unable to wear a mask or face covering. Do I still have to?
No. Persons for whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition are exempt from the EPG's order.
Does the EPG's order require me to disclose my specific condition?
The order prohibits business operators and their employees from asking for specifics or documentation if a customer claims an exception for health reasons, or denying admittance or service to that person for not wearing a face covering.
Does the EPG's order require me to wear a face covering to church?
No. The EPG's order does not apply to religious organizations or private clubs.
Does the EPG's order require me to wear a face covering when I'm walking my dog or jogging?
No. The EPG's order only applies when persons are inside a commercial, for-profit or non-profit business that provides goods or services to the public and not maintaining social distancing (at least six feet) from others. However, for your own protection and the protection of others, the CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
If I am eating at a restaurant, does the EPG's order require me to wear a face covering?
No. People do not have to wear a face covering while eating or drinking.
Under the EPG's order, can customers of a business be cited for not wearing a face covering?
Individuals who do not fall under one of the exceptions listed in the order can be subject to penalties if they refuse to put on a face covering after being asked by a business operator or employee.
Can businesses be held responsible for not ensuring that the EPG's order is adhered to on their premises?
Business operators who make reasonable efforts to comply with the order will not be subject to penalties. These efforts include posting signage at public entrances, making regular announcements to customers over a public address system if there is one, requiring employees not exempt from the order to wear face coverings, and asking patrons not wearing face coverings to do so.
Who is responsible for enforcing the EPG's order?
Local law enforcement agencies and local code enforcement agencies can investigate and determine violations.
What happens if you are cited for violating the EPG's order?
The EPG's order intends to seek voluntary compliance through education but, as a last resort, penalties range from a civil citation and $150 fine through a second-degree misdemeanor.
How can I report businesses not requiring face coverings?
You can call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's non-emergency number at (813) 247-8200
How long will the EPG's order requiring face coverings be in place?
The Emergency Policy Group will decide whether to extend or rescind the order on a weekly basis.