Orange County mayor announces 3-phased plan to roll back mask mandate

First phase takes effect immediately

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – One day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated people no longer had to wear a mask outdoors except in crowded settings, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced the county’s three-phased plan for rolling back its mask mandate.

“As I have said many, many times before here in Orange County, we do follow the science,” Demings said. “And after receiving research from multiple sources, including the Florida Department of Health, the University of Central Florida and local hospitals, I have amended my facial covering executive order.”

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The first phase of the three-phased plan took effect immediately. It reduces physical distancing requirements from 6 feet to 3 feet and aligns the rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people with the CDC guidelines put out Tuesday.

Orange County face cover executive order phase 1 (Orange County government)

The second phase does not take effect until 50% of Orange County’s 16-and-older population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This phase lifts the mask mandate for all outdoor activities for everyone in the county, though people will still be required to maintain at least 3 feet of distance between groups. The county will still require masks for indoor activities, except when people are eating or drinking.

The mayor and Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County seemed optimistic that the county could reach phase two in less than a month.

“So it all depends on all things considered, and if we keep the same level of immunizations that we have,” Pino said. “We should be there before, three weeks at the 50%. Other things could happen. We could vaccinate more people, and then get there quicker, or perhaps if the federal government released the data from the VA and the Department of Defense, we probably could see a quick increase of the number of vaccinated people that are not currently in our databases.”

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