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Ocala’s face mask ordinance is being challenged in court

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 4:03 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - The City of Ocala’s emergency face mask ordinance is set to be challenged in court.

Christina Miller, a lawyer in Ocala, has filed a complaint in Marion County, asking a judge to issue a temporary injunction. Miller argues that the city order, which requires business and houses of worship to ask visitors to wear masks, is unconstitutional, overreaching and vague.

The mask ordinance came into effect on Wednesday after the city council overturned Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn’s veto with a 4-1 vote - the only dissenting vote came from Council President Jay Musleh.

The ordinance states that businesses would have to post signage about the face covering requirement, make announcements over the business’s p-a system, and make “a reasonable effort” to ensure patrons and employees wear a mask.

There are exceptions to the face covering rule, however. Children under the age of seven, persons who have trouble breathing due to chronic pre-existing conditions, those who cannot “tolerate a facial covering for a medical sensory or any other condition which makes it difficult for them to utilize a face covering and function in public,” those exercising while six feet away from another individual, and restaurant and bar patrons that are eating and drinking, are some of the exemptions to the face covering rules.

There are some penalties if businesses don’t follow these rules.

According to the ordinance, a first time offender will receive a verbal warning, which includes “education about the dangers of non-compliance,” a second offense will include a written warning, while a third, and all subsequent offenses, will include a $25 fine.

The council will meet again next Tuesday, where they will be discussing the ordinance once again. They are expected to discuss making some possible changes to the language to the ordinance. At this time the responsibility to police the ordinance falls on the businesses and houses of worship, however, that could change.

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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