Orange County businesses, residents ready for new face mask mandate

Mandate goes into effect Saturday morning

New guidelines take effect on Saturday requiring residents and visitors of Orange County to wear face masks in public where social distancing is impossible.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – New guidelines take effect on Saturday requiring residents and visitors of Orange County to wear face masks in public where social distancing is impossible.

On Friday night, bars in downtown Orlando got ready to adapt to even more changes as the community battles an increase in the number of new coronavirus cases.

“I think people are antsy to come out, and they’re willing to do anything to have this privilege not taken away from us again,” said John Sanfilippo.

Sanfilippo runs six bars in the downtown Orlando area, including the Beacham.

He said his team is required to have their temperature taken before they enter the building, and they need to wear masks while on duty.

Starting on Saturday, a sign out in front tells customers they need to wear them, too.

“We have everything up there we can possibly do at this point to keep reminding people to social distance and be responsible for their own actions,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, a long line of people waited outside of Dawn’s Alterations in Edgewood to purchase masks in time for the new mask mandate.

“I have one mask but it’s not reusable so I need something more,” said Vladyslav Piddunvnyi. “I thought we were already over this but, here we go.”

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he waited two days before the executive order took effect to allow people to prepare.

The mandate comes as the number of new cases in Florida overall have increased but in Orange County new cases have reached a record high since the beginning of the pandemic. Orange County reported 29 new cases on June 1, on Friday the county reported 374 new cases in a single day.

"We have to act and we have to act now," Demings said in referencing the executive order.

There are a few exceptions to the order which include:

i.) Persons under the age of two years old; or

ii.) Persons for whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition; or

iii.) Persons working in a profession who do not have any face-to-face interactions with the public; or

iv.) Persons working in a profession where use of a face covering will not be compatible with the duties of the profession; or

v.) Persons exercising while observing social distancing in accordance with the CDC guidelines

However, other than those exceptions, Demings said Friday everyone else is required to wear a mask.

"My job is to do what I believe is right for the citizens of our county and we are going to do that," Demings said.

The Mayor sent a copy of the executive order to Governor Ron DeSantis’ office hoping for a statewide mandate as well. Tampa’s mayor enacted a similar measure and Hillsborough County officials will discuss doing so next week.

The governor did not saying anything about a statewide mandate at a news conference Friday.

“They have every right to do that and they have every right to enforce that,” DeSantis said of counties issuing their own mask mandates.

About the Authors:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013. He is one of the station’s lead reporters. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.