JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville leaders issued a citywide mask mandate Monday for indoor locations, weeks before the city is set to host the Republican National Convention.
City officials say people will be required to wear a face covering anywhere groups are unable to socially distance. With the city slated to host the RNC and its 40,000 participants from Aug. 24-27, leaders say they are unsure how its new face-covering requirements will impact the event.
The large-scale Republican event is historically hosted in North Carolina. The unusual decision to host a majority of its events at an alternative location stems from the president hoping to accept his party’s nomination in front of a crowd. Officials and venues in North Carolina said, due to the coronavirus pandemic, they would have had to adjust capacity sizes and allow for social distancing for the event.
Jacksonville Mayor and former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry had previously stated he did not plan to issue a face-covering mandate. His office made the decision after speaking to leaders from local hospitals.
As of Monday morning, the Florida Department of Health was reporting 5,266 new positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 146,341. Florida’s positivity rate, the number of new cases compared to the number of people tested, was above 13%.
With an increase of coronavirus cases in Florida, reporters asked Jacksonville leaders how the mask mandate would impact the RNC.
“As it relates to the RNC, that event again is months away,” Jordan Elsbury, the mayor’s chief of staff said. “We’ll continue to monitor data and make informed decisions as time goes on to protect our people. But the policy is in place today.”