Winter Haven Commission Votes Yes on Mask Mandate as ICU Bed Capacity Tightens

July 13, 2020

By: Staff Report

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Effective Tuesday at 5 P.M., masks will be mandatory in Winter Haven. City Commissioners voted unanimously to require masks inside of buildings where social distancing isn’t possible.

Polk County is reported to be at near-capacity with only 8.02% ICU bed availability and COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

POLK COUNTY ICU BED AVAILABILITY

Emergency Ordinance No. O-20-28 will go into effect Tuesday, July 14 at 5 p.m. and will expire August 14 at 5 p.m. unless rescinded and/or extended. The Emergency Ordinance will be enforced in the area inside the incorporated limit of Winter Haven with a fine of $150 for those that don’t comply.

There are exemptions to the Emergency Ordinance that preclude the requirement to wear a mask. Some of these exemptions include children under eight years old, if a medical issue prohibits the wearing of a mask, issues regarding ADA compliance, persons exercising while social distancing, individuals who have an occupation that prohibits a mask, those who are eating and drinking, those communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, and when social distancing is practiced.

City Manager Mike Herr said, “The goal of this Ordinance is to reduce the infection rate of Covid-19 while at the same time keeping our community open for business. By wearing a mask we are helping others stay well.  Wearing a face covering during a pandemic is the right thing to do.  We are each other’s neighbors here in Winter Haven, and this our time to stand up in support of our fellow citizen by covering our face to limit the spread of this new virus.  By reducing the spread, we will also alleviate our local health care and first-responder resources and professionals of undue stress and difficulty.  Public Safety staff will work hard to provide information to educate those not complying with the Ordinance.  Fining the public for not complying is not the end-goal we want.”

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