Masks will now be required in Ocala

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Last updated on August 10, 2020. Read the update here.

The City of Ocala, in a 4-1 vote, passed an emergency measure to force citizens to wear face masks.

The ordinance in part read as follows:

(i) “The Proprietor of a business establishment or lodging establishment shall ensure that every person in such a business establishment or lodging establishment wears a face covering.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following persons shall be exempt from the requirement to wear a face-covering set forth in section (i).

( a.) Children under the age of seven (7) years of age.

( b.) Persons who have trouble breathing due to a chronic pre-existing condition or individuals with a documented or demonstrable medical problem. It is the intent of this provision that those individuals who cannot tolerate a facial covering for a medical, sensory, or any other condition which makes it difficult for them to utilize a face covering and function in public are not required to wear one.

( c.) Public safety, fire, and other life safety and health care personnel, as their personal protective equipment requirements, will be governed by their respective agencies.

( d.) Persons exercising religious beliefs or practices conflicting with the wearing of a facial covering.

( e.) Persons physically exercising while observing at least 6 feet of distancing from another person.

( f.) Restaurant, bar, or theatre patrons while eating or drinking. It is the intent of this provision that a face covering will be worn while traversing a business establishment for ingress and egress, to use the restroom facilities, and while otherwise standing when persons are unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distancing.

( g.) Business owners, managers, and employees who are in an area of a business establishment that is not open to customers, patrons, or the public, provided that 6 feet of distance exist between the persons. This exception does not apply to employees who are present in the kitchen or other food and beverage preparation area of a business establishment.

( h.) Medical, dental, or other health care facilities or offices, as mask-wearing in those facilities, will be regulated pursuant to guidance specifically directed to those particular facilities.

( i.) Persons who are separated from any other person by means of barriers such as plastic face shields, plastic or glass barriers, or other devices that effectively prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

( j.) A person in a lodging establishment who is inside the lodging unit, including but not limited to, a hotel room, motel room, vacation rental unit, timeshare unit, or similar unit.

The Proprietor of a business establishment is required to post signage notifying all persons of the requirement to wear a face-covering set forth herein the entry door or front façade of such business establishment.”

Compliance and consequences

A Proprietor of a business establishment shall be deemed to be in compliance with the requirements of this Ordinance if such Proprietor or its employee(s) implements all of the following measures:

( a.) Posts signage about the face-covering requirement;

( b.) Announces the requirement over the business establishment or lodging establishment’s public address system, if possible;

( c.) Requires employees to wear face coverings, unless they are excepted from such requirement under subsection (4)(ii) of this Emergency Ordinance; and

( d.) Makes a “reasonable effort” to ensure guests, customers, or patrons within the business establishment wear a face covering. “Reasonable effort” shall include verbally requesting that a guest, customer, or patron wear a face covering.

Prior to the issuance of penalties as provided in subsection 5(iv) of this Emergency Ordinance, the alleged violator shall be given an opportunity to voluntarily comply with the provisions of this Emergency Ordinance. In the event voluntary compliance is not achieved, then a violation of this Emergency Ordinance, and any order issued pursuant hereto, shall be subject to the penalties as provided in subsection 5(iv) of this Emergency Ordinance, or as otherwise provided by law.

  • A violation of this Emergency Ordinance is a noncriminal infraction.
  • A violation of this Emergency Ordinance does not authorize the search or arrest of an individual.

The Proprietor of a business establishment is subject to the following penalties for the violation of this Emergency Ordinance:

( a.) For a first offense, a verbal warning that includes education about the dangers of non-compliance;

( b.) For a second offense, a written warning;

( c.) For a third and all subsequent offenses, a fine of $25.00.

( d.) All other remedies available at law or equity, including injunction, remain available to the City, even after issuance of a citation.

The ordinance is greatly frowned upon by many citizens as they feel it violates their rights. Others feel it is a waste of resources.

Business owners feel as if they are being targeted and penalized.

Unless Mayor Kent Guinn vetos the order, it will into effect on August 14.

You can read the full order here.