Osceola County now requires face coverings in public

Penalties could include large fine or jail time

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Anyone in Osceola County must now wear a face covering when venturing outside.

During a Friday news conference, a new emergency order was announced, stating that those in Osceola County will be required to wear a covering when in public.

“It’s not meant to be a punishment. We’re doing this to stop the spread of this virus,” Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said.

The new requirement went into effect Monday at 12:01 a.m. and will continue until officials deem face coverings are no longer needed.

Osceola County officials require everyone to wear a face covering when out in public

“Wearing a face cloth will help someone who doesn’t know they have it (COVID-19) from spreading the virus,” officials said.

Officials urged the public to not buy N95 masks or PPE but instead use a scarf, bandana or T-shirt.

[Timeline: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]

If someone is found not following the guideline, the offender can face up to a $500 fine or 60 days in jail, Gibson said.

Many residents we talked with in Osceola County say the mandate is a good thing.

"When you talk to each other, all of that communication, it spreads throughout the air," said resident Sabrina Aboy. "So when you’re using a face mask, you’re protecting everyone around you, and yourself."

The new order from Osceola County goes into effect on Monday.

“We want to keep everyone safe and we want to get back to normal,” said resident Emily Colon.

The following exceptions are allowed for not wearing a mask:

  • Anyone under the age of 2
  • A person who has an existing health condition and a face covering would cause impairment to them
  • Person working in a profession where the use of a face covering will not be compatible with the duties of the profession
  • Person working in a profession and do not have any face-to-face interactions with the public
  • Anyone exercising while observing social distancing

Osceola County still has a curfew in place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. The curfew is in effect until further notice.

As of Friday morning, Osceola County had 300 positive cases of the coronavirus.

“The way that you can help the very most is to stay home,” Gibson added.

87 people had been hospitalized according to the Florida Department of Health.

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