While Broward County continues to see encouraging trends in its coronavirus numbers, county leaders have decided to step up its enforcement of the mask mandate, ahead of labor day weekend.
Mayor Dale Holness announced on Friday that there would be $100 (minimum) fines for people not wearing masks indoors or near others, with code enforcement out patrolling.
“We now have to prepare for the holiday weekend coming up, which means we’re going to see a lot of people coming into town,” Holness said. “We want to make sure that they’re socially distancing and wearing facial coverings.”
Holness says Broward’s beaches will stay open through Labor Day weekend (the holiday is Sept. 7) but those mask fines will be enforced. The county had been on more of a warning system.
Since March 1, the County has issued more than 1,680 warnings and citations to businesses who have substantiated violations of the facial covering and other operating requirements. As a result, the number of cases, hospitalizations, deaths and the overall positivity rate have declined.
The enforcement of violations of the facial coverings is now extended to individuals, with potential fines of up to $1,000 for those who are cited.
“Every member of the community has a role to play in protecting us from the virus,” said County Administrator Bertha Henry.
“The wearing of facial coverings while in public places is a proven way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and increase the overall health of our community. We want everybody who lives in or decides to visit Broward County during this pandemic to know that we are a ‘mask community.’”
The county leaders say the enforcement of the order is critical if Broward is to move to Phase 2 of a reopening anytime soon. Holness said that Broward County is “not there yet” in terms of relaxing restrictions.
Municipal code enforcement authorities may establish their own fines for violations of the facial covering requirements; but are encouraged to follow Broward County’s lead to reduce confusion and ensure consistency throughout the community.
The enhanced enforcement program takes effect immediately.