Two Northeast Florida cities have joined other municipalities across the state requiring people to wear masks in public places to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The St. Augustine City Commission approved the requirement Friday, June 26, during an emergency meeting. The city of Jacksonville issued its own mandate Monday, June 29.
At a special meeting Tuesday, June 30, the St. Johns County Commission discussed a similar measure, but didn’t pass anything.
The cities’ mandates come as cases of COVID-19 have surged throughout Florida and in St. Johns and Duval counties.
Both cities require the use of face coverings indoors at public locations where social distancing practices cannot be observed. Jacksonville’s mandate goes a bit further than St. Augustine’s, not limiting compliance to the indoors.
People entering businesses Tuesday in St. Augustine were seen strapping on masks at the doors.
“People are receiving it well,” said Bethany Kimball, front house manager at Burger Buckets, 3 Cordova St. “Most people are prepared and have masks.”
She said she thought the mandate was a good idea.
Though the restaurant is restricted to half capacity by an executive order of the governor, outside seating has helped.
“Business has been pretty good,” Kimball said. “It almost feels normal.”
“Everybody’s been really respectful,” said Emilee O’Kelley, community leader at Maple Street Biscuit Company, 39 Cordova St. “We haven’t had any issues. It’s been really great to see the community come together to protect those and to help those and serve those who can’t help themselves.”
The restaurant has been busy, especially on weekdays.
“It’s great,” O’Kelley said. “I love it.”
There are exceptions in both cities where masks would interfere with workplace operations and in some cases involving first responders. Young children — under two in St. Augustine, under six in Jacksonville — are also exempt.