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Palm Beach County reinstates mask mandate inside all government buildings

Violators could be removed, issued trespass warning
sign with arrows pointing in direction of Palm Beach County government buildings in downtown West Palm Beach
Posted at 12:39 PM, Jul 30, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County is reinstating its mask requirement at all county government-operated facilities.

A news release from the county said Friday that it was "necessary to reinstate a facial covering requirement" for anyone who steps foot inside a county-owned-or-leased building.

The decision comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidelines for fully vaccinated people in areas of substantial or high transmission of COVID-19 and its variants.

"South Florida is an area that meets this description," the news release said.

The mask mandate takes effect Monday until further notice.

"It's something that no one's looking forward to, but it's a reasonable response to the skyrocketing rates of COVID-19," Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner told WPTV.

WATCH: Interview with Mayor Dave Kerner

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner calls change in mask policy 'something that must be done'

Under the new policy, "individuals must wear facial coverings and practice social distancing from other individuals while indoors on county property."

This applies to everyone, regardless of a person's vaccination status.

Kerner said he considers it "a minor intrusion" for people to otherwise go about their business inside county buildings.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss also called the change in policy "the right step to be taking to protect our employees, their families and the public."

The county news release said law enforcement is "authorized to issue a trespass warning and remove any individuals who are not in compliance with this policy."

Weiss was asked if he believes the policy will be strictly enforced.

"I believe it will be, yes," he said.

WATCH: Interview with Commissioner Gregg Weiss

Palm Beach County Commissioner Greg Weiss believes mask mandate will be strictly enforced

Although the policy seems to contradict Gov. Ron DeSantis' May executive order suspending county and municipal restrictions related to the pandemic, Weiss said he doesn't believe it applies in this instance.

Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach reinstated similar mask policies earlier this week.

Face masks are already required on all county-operated vehicles and at Palm Beach International Airport to comply with federal law.

Kerner and Weiss shared the same message, urging those who haven't been vaccinated to consider doing so.

"This pandemic has become really a war against the unvaccinated, and I hate to put it that way, but that's really the primary group that is getting infected and getting sick and really being impacted the most by COVID-19," Kerner said.

Until then, Kerner said, masks will be a necessary measure to help prevent the spread.

"It's not something that I enjoy doing, but it's something that must be done," he said.