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“I can already hear the whining”: MCSO Sheriff Billy Woods bans the use of masks by employees and visitors

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 4:40 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - It’s masks off for some north central Florida deputies. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods issued a “no mask” order for deputies and office visitors.

Woods sent out an email Tuesday to his staff informing them of the new policy, writing, “this is no longer a debate nor is it up for discussion.”

There are exceptions to the rule, like having to wear masks at the county courthouse, the jail, at public and private schools that require masks, hospitals, and when deputies are responding to a nursing home, an address where there is a known COVID-19 alert, or on a call that involves a high risk elderly person. Once the action that required the mask is completed, the mask are to be removed immediately.

Sheriff Woods added that if any of his staff are confronted by someone that takes issue with them not wearing a mask, they are to respond, “I am not required to wear a mask nor will I, per the Order of the Sheriff” before walking away.

Visitors to the Sheriff’s Office or one of their district offices are also required to remove their masks.

If a visitor does not want to removed their mask, they will be asked to leave. If they do not want to wait in the lobby with other people not wearing mask, staff will take the person’s cell phone number so they can wait outside.

But it’s a mixed bag for residents. Some said masks should be required.

“The Coronavirus does have no name so anybody could catch it. Be safe and wear a mask,” a concerned Lazaro Campos said.

While others are okay with the decision to go without a mask.

“If I get something and overcome it I become stronger, if I get something and die it was meant to be. I can accept those risks,” Ocala resident Dan Johnson said.

There are 900 employees at the sheriff’s office. Woods ended his email by writing, “my orders will be followed or my actions will be swift to address.”

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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