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Mask requirements at city buildings grow amid surging COVID-19 cases in Florida

People who don't comply could be cited for trespassing, lawyer says
Posted at 8:18 PM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 21:34:35-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — More cities are requiring masks inside their public buildings regardless of vaccination status.

Boynton Beach and Delray Beach are the latest to announce the changes.


Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that prevented mask mandates cities are still able to make these mask requirements.

Officials with the city of Boynton Beach said they changed their mask requirements after the CDC issued new guidelines this week.

New signs are posted at the city buildings in Boynton Beach saying face coverings are required.

"The numbers are going up, and I understand why they are doing it," said resident Erica Armitage.

She said she is OK with putting a mask back on when she goes inside.

"Right now, it's just city buildings, so it's not a big deal to put a mask on for the time you are there," Armitage said.

Boynton Beach City Manager Lori Laverriere
Boynton Beach City Manager Lori Laverriere discusses the new mask policy inside city buildings.

Boynton Beach City Manager Lori Laverriere said they are asking all of their employees and visitors to wear a mask inside city-owned buildings.

"We're in a high area of transmission, so let's be precautious and do what we can to help it," Laverriere said.

Although the governor has an executive order preventing mandates and emergency orders, Laverriere said the new mask policy is neither of those.

"We have the right to say, 'If you want to come into our facility, we ask you to do this,' and can require it," Laverriere said.

Trial attorney Michael Westheimer said the order from the governor allows political subdivisions like cities or school districts certain allowances like this mask requirement because of the health and safety aspect.

"I think, even as attorneys, it is sometimes hard to dissect this. … The governor says something, then a political subdivision says something," Westheimer said.

Trial attorney Michael Westheimer
Trial attorney Michael Westheimer explains why cities are allowed to implement mask policies despite restrictions from the governor.

He adds that a privately owned business does have the power to tell someone to wear a mask.

"If you do not [comply], you are not necessarily going to get arrested or penalized for not wearing a mask, but it may go into trespassing if police are called," Westheimer said.

Laverriere said if someone does not wear a mask on city property, they will be provided one. If someone continues to not wear one, they will discuss why the requirement is there.

"We will not escalate the situation. We are not going to get into altercations and arguments," Laverriere said.

She said police will be called if a situation escalates.