Orange County looks to relax mask mandate, social distancing as vaccine efforts step up

Several Central Florida counties respond to Orange County update

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County is working on plans to begin phasing out its current rules on masks and social distancing in the Central Florida county.

“We are working with the department of health on a plan to phase reducing requirements of wearing facial coverings and social distancing,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said. “We are reviewing how CDC requirements are evolving along with COVID infection data and a plan will be announced soon.”

The mayor later added, “Those phases will be based upon both the indoor and outdoor capacity of various locations and so you will see a plan of how we will gradually reduce that within the coming weeks or months.”

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Demings did not offer further details about what this phased approach would look like or what parameters it might be contingent upon; however, the mayor said last week that mask mandates could end once half of the county’s population is vaccinated.

“The mask mandate will end, I think, as we get closer to maybe 50% of our overall total population having been vaccinated and dependent upon how soon we get the shots in the arms of people we will make that determination,” Demings said during a news conference on April 5. “Suffice it to say I believe that by the time we get to June... perhaps we should be there at that point. We’ll see.”

After teasing this reduction in COVID-19 restrictions, Demings touted the county’s vaccine efforts. He said that more than 50% of the county’s 40 and older population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. When looking at the county’s entire population, 26.8% had received at least one dose. To put it another way, more than one in every four Orange County residents has received at least one dose of a vaccine.

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