COCOA, Fla. – Cocoa City Council unanimously voted in favor of a mask requirement emergency ordinance at a meeting Wednesday, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
The ordinance will require masks or face coverings to be worn in places that are open to the public starting Saturday. City Council will review the ordinance every 30 days to determine whether it should be extended or allowed to expire based on the status of the coronavirus pandemic.
The mask requirement comes as some Brevard municipalities—such as Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach—have passed similar rules. West Melbourne also imposed a mask requirement inside of certain retailers to prevent coronavirus spread.
Pushback around mask requirements has sparked heated debate at County Commission meetings as well as small demonstrations around the county as some see the rules as an infringement on their rights.
Business owners and residents are asked to voluntarily comply with the order and Cocoa city officials set up a website at cocoafl.org/covid19 for frequently asked questions.
Penalties for not wearing a mask include:
- Prior to issuance of a citation, the person will be asked to comply or provide an exception noted in the ordinance for non-compliance.
- After continual non-compliance, a code enforcement citation may be issued for violation and a civil penalty imposed. First two violations there will be no penalty. For the third and subsequent violations, a civil citation shall be issued with a penalty of ($50.00) for each violation. In lieu of paying the civil penalty, the violator may provide one hour of community service to address the needs within the City of Cocoa.
Exceptions will be made for children under two years old, those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask and those with exemptions under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Anyone outdoors exercising while social distancing, eating or drinking, or anyone communicating with someone hearing impaired while social distancing will also be exempted from wearing a mask, according to the ordinance.
Cocoa Mayor Jake Williams said in an emailed statement that “the goal of this Emergency Ordinance is to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus while at the same time keeping our community open for business and supporting our local economy.”
“Wearing a mask not only protects ourselves, it protects our neighbors from exposure. By reducing the spread, we are also assisting our first responders and health care workers and allowing them to continue their essential functions in keeping our community safe and providing our core municipal services. We are hoping for voluntary compliance. We do not want to levy fines, we just want to keep our community safe,” he said.