St. Lucie County Issues Mandatory Masks Order

During its regular meeting Tuesday, St. Lucie County Commissioners voted, 4 to 1, to approve an ordinance regarding the mandatory requirement for facial coverings in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

This ordinance is similar to the emergency order issued by County Administrator Howard Tipton on July 13, except it provides an exemption for people exercising indoors, who are social distancing in accordance with the Center for Disease Control guidelines. The ordinance remains in effect until the local state of emergency expires or until repealed. Additionally, the penalties for violating a local ordinance are civil only, unlike the emergency order, which provided for criminal penalties.

Face coverings, which cover both the nose and mouth, must be worn by all individuals at indoor or outdoor public places and businesses including retails stores, offices and restaurants. Those dining, indoor or outdoor, do not have to wear facial coverings while consuming food or beverages.

Exceptions to the ordinance include:

  • Children under the age of six and any child while under the custody of a license childcare facility, including schools, summer camps and day care centers;
  • Persons who have a medical conditions or disability that make wearing a face covering unsafe;
  • A person who is hearing-impaired and needs to see the mouth of someone wearing a face covering in order to communicate;
  • Anyone exercising, when social distancing is used;
  • Public health, safety, fire, or other life safety personnel that have personal protective equipment requirements governed by their respective agencies;
  • Persons receiving goods and services from a business or establishment for the shortest practical period of time during which the receipt of such goods or services necessarily precludes the wearing of a face covering such as, but not limited to, consuming food or beverage or receiving dental services, facial grooming or treatments;
  • Persons in private rooms of a lodging establishment, such as hotel, motel or vacation rental or within units of multi-family, residential property; however, face coverings must be worn in common areas;
  • Those engaged in outdoor work or recreation with appropriate social distancing pursuant to Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines in place and being practiced;
  • Persons working in a business or establishment who maintain social distancing from another person; and
  • Persons for whom wearing a facial covering is subject to a religious objection.

A proper face covering includes any covering which snugly covers the nose and mouth, whether store bought or homemade, and which is secured in place. Residents are encouraged to review the CDC and Florida Department of Health guidelines regarding properly and safely applying, removing, and cleaning masks. Medical and surgical masks, such as N95 masks or other similar medical surgical masks, should be reserved for health care personnel, police, fire fighters, emergency management and other first responders engaged in life/safety activities.

A violation of this ordinance is a noncriminal infraction and shall be enforced by law enforcement agencies. Violations could result in a fines of $25 for first offense; $62.50 for second offense and $125 for the third offense.

Because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, many national retailers and businesses are requiring facial coverings for customers and employees. Local businesses may adopt policies that go above-and-beyond St. Lucie County’s ordinance.

Click here to view the official ordinance.