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Palm Beach passes COVID-19 emergency declaration

Resolution brings 'heightened awareness' about spike in cases, town leaders say
Posted at 3:15 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 19:08:30-04

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Members of the Palm Beach Town Council passed a local emergency declaration due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.


The resolution was issued by the chief of police at the direction of the town manager. The measure passed by a vote of 4-1.

The declaration has no teeth because of state orders, but town leaders said it brings a "heightened awareness" about the level of COVID-19 transmission.

Leaders had announced Monday that anyone on town property indoors will have to wear a face mask and practice social distancing, regardless of an individual's vaccination status.

Palm Beach Town Council
Council members with the town of Palm Beach passed an emergency declaration on July 27, 2021, due to a spike on COVID-19 cases.

Council President Margaret Zeidman said Tuesday the town does not have the power to implement a mask mandate on private businesses.

The emergency declaration does not impact the status of beaches or any business closures.

The resolution will be readdressed at an Aug. 10 meeting and at every council meeting moving forward if it is still in place.

Zeidman said they implemented the mask resolution due to a spike in cases in Palm Beach County. Town officials said it's unclear if positivity levels are high in Palm Beach because the state has reduced its COVID-19 reports, which are no longer specific to area codes.

MORE: Should vaccinated people still wear face masks?

The decision comes as coronavirus cases have risen throughout Florida. Other U.S. cities have announced similar mask mandates amid the spike in cases this summer.

Florida currently leads the nation among COVID-19 variant cases.

In a reversal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.

Many residents are asking how Palm Beach can enforce a mask mandate when Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order issued back in April did away with mandates and restrictions related to COVID-19.

"Because we own these buildings, the town," Zeidman said. "We’re elected officials elected by the people of the town. These are our buildings. We employ the people who work in these buildings and we need to protect them and we need to protect anyone who is coming into the buildings, so we are able to do that."

The town of Palm Beach said it's not going to try to control what private businesses choose to do regarding COVID-19 restrictions.