Alachua County commissioners approve mask mandate

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday voted to approve an emergency order requiring masks indoors in public buildings with two or more people above the age of 2 present.

The order does not apply in private residences and does not require masks in other settings if it’s only a family unit present.

It allows for exemptions for and medical basis.

Violations can result in a civil citation.

According to WCJB-TV, the mandate will be in effect for seven days.

Commissioners are working on the official wording and hope it will go into effect by the end of the day on Thursday.

In July, SB 2006 -- which was approved during Florida’s 2021 legislative session and signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis -- took effect. The law grants the governor power to override local orders during health crises. Prior to the vote Wednesday evening by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, a spokesperson for the governor’s office said no one is above the law and they hoped the board would not go through with the decision, WCJB reports.

Wednesday’s vote was held during an emergency special meeting. It comes after the Alachua County School Board on Tuesday voted to extend the district’s mask mandate eight more weeks. The school board received national attention in recent weeks after it went against DeSantis’ executive order banning mask mandates in school.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that even fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission of COVID-19. The CDC also recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.