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Alachua Co. Commission votes to tighten masking order for businesses

The decision to increase enforcement comes after a surge of new COVID-19 cases due to more testing.
Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 6:16 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Alachua County Commissioners have unanimously voted to tighten up COVID-19 restrictions.

This was decided after seeing a spike of new cases, which health experts say happened because of more people being tested.

Commissioners agreed they want as many residents as possible wearing masks. Commissioner Ken Cornell says this important so businesses can function.

“We’ve seen a marked increase in folks expressing concerns within our community and when people are concerned, they don’t go shopping. They don’t go out and affects our economy and so I think it’s not just public health anymore, it’s critical to the functioning of our economy,” he said.

County leaders are also increasing enforcement efforts, with code enforcement officers giving out warnings to those entering businesses without a required mask.

These workers will have masks available for customers who do not have one.

Commissioner Mike Byerly says the commission will need to own the consequences of these stricter rules.

“The more we do, the more divisiveness it will create. The more it will become a political rallying point, cultural rallying point and that’s not the direction I really want to be heading with this, maybe that’s inevitable,” he said.

Businesses will now be required to post signs about the masking order and social distancing guidelines.

County leaders also want to make a plan to make masks available for businesses who request them for their customers.

“I don’t see where a business would have a problem with providing masks or hand sanitizer to folks. In some establishments, they’re already there,” Alachua County Commissioner Chuck Chestnut said.

A spokesperson for Alachua County says a date has not been set for when these requirements will be in effect but it will be within a few days.

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