LAKELAND, Fla. – Officials with the city of Lakeland announced Wednesday that a face mask mandate would go into effect at 5 p.m. to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and that a fine would be used to enforce the resolution.
“On Thursday, July 2, 2020 the Lakeland City Commission held a Specially Called City Commission Meeting to discuss a resolution that would require masks/face coverings consistent with CDC guidelines for those individuals inside the Lakeland corporate limits,” officials said in a news release. “The City Commission voted 5-2 in favor of the resolution with Commissioner Franklin and Commissioner Reed being the dissenting votes.”
According to Dr. Joy Jackson, Director of the Florida Department of Health for Polk County, the median age for individuals testing positive for COVID-19 in Polk County is 40 with the younger population starting to impact the health system. Jackson also said there are 92 individuals with COVID-19 currently at Lakeland Regional Health.
Exceptions to the mask mandate include:
- Children under eight-years-old
- Those with medical issues that prohibit the wearing of a mask
- Those with issues regarding ADA compliancy
- Persons exercising
- Individuals who have an occupation that prohibits a mask
- When social distancing is practiced
“The resolution will go into effect today at 5 p.m. and will expire at 5 p.m. on August 3rd,” city attorney Palmer Davis said. “The resolution will also be enforced with a fine not to exceed $250 for those that don’t comply.”
Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz said he does not want to use fines to enforce the resolution, but will if necessary in an effort to protect everyone within the city.
“The goal is to educate and we don’t want to get to a fine stage on this issue. Only those that are being obstinate and create an issue will be given a fine,” Mutz said in a news release. “Mask wearing is simply caring enough about other people. The decision to introduce the resolution was pro-business, pro-health care and pro-first responders. This is not about me because I don’t like wearing a mask but this is the best way to protect our freedoms so we don’t have another shutdown.”
As of Thursday morning, the Florida Department of Health reported 4,327 cases of COVID-19 in Polk County since the virus was first detected in Florida on March 1, as well as 480 total hospitalizations and 102 deaths.