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Face Mask Mandate in Lakeland Ended on October 5

Face masks Required in Lakeland

On Monday, October 5, 2020, the Lakeland City Commission did not renew the face mask mandate in Lakeland, allowing it to expire. Businesses in the City of Lakeland can still choose to require masks inside their facilities.

Face masks had been required in the City of Lakeland in public indoor settings since Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 5:00pm. On Monday, August 3, the Lakeland City Commission voted to extend the mask mandate through Tuesday, September 8. On Tuesday, September 8, the Lakeland City Commission voted to extend the mask mandate through Monday, October 5.  On October 5 the Commission did not take up the issue and allowed the existing mandate to expire.

The Lakeland City Commission voted to require face masks in “any indoor location, other than their home or residence, when not maintaining social distancing from other persons, excluding family members or companions.”

For parents worried their child can’t wear a mask or won’t leave it on, there is an exception for children under 8. There are also exceptions for youth sports, exercising, eating, and ADA conflicts – a full list of exceptions is below.

We have a separate list of local businesses selling face masks for adults and face masks for children. Click here to find out where to buy Face Masks in Lakeland.

Additional Information: 

Below is the exact text from the resolution. (Link below to see the full resolution – only the relevant information is shown below).

“Every person working, living, visiting, or doing business in the City of Lakeland shall wear a face covering consistent with CDC guidelines in any indoor location, other than their home or residence, when not maintaining social distancing from other persons, excluding family members or companions.”

Exceptions – those not required to wear a mask:

a. Persons under the age of eight (8) years old;
b. Persons observing social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines;
c. Persons for whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition;
d. Persons working in a business or profession who do not have interactions with other persons;
e. Persons working in a business or profession who maintain social distancing from other persons;
f. Persons working in a business or profession where use of a face covering would prevent them from performing the duties of their business or profession;
g. Persons exercising, while maintaining social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines;
h. Persons eating or drinking;
i. Persons under the age of eighteen (18) years old while participating in youth sports;
j. Public safety, fire and other life safety and health care personnel, as their protective equipment requirements will be governed by their respective agencies;
k. Persons communicating with someone who is hearing impaired where the wearing of a face covering would impede communication, provided that social distancing is observed to the greatest extent practicable;
l. Persons for whom the requirement to wear a face covering would cause a conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

(There was some discussion during the meeting on 8/3 to exempt Public and Private Schools and allow them to set their own mask policies, but this amendment failed. It is our understanding that policies set by Polk County Public Schools override any City or County decisions, but Private Schools fall under this resolution).

Link to read full resolution: City Commission Agendas – click on August 3, 2020 –  then click B.1. under Public Hearings.

How is face mask defined? 

From the City of Lakeland resolution:
“Face Covering” shall mean a uniform piece of material that securely covers a person’s nose and mouth and remains affixed in place without the use of one’s hands, whether store-bought or homemade, consistent with CDC guidelines.

“Social Distancing” shall mean keeping space between yourself and other people by staying at least 6 feet from other people.

How will this be enforced?

It is the intent of the City Commission to seek voluntary compliance with the provisions contained herein and to educate and warn of the dangers of non-compliance. However, in the event voluntary compliance is not achieved, then violation of this Resolution, and any order issued pursuant hereto, shall be subject to a fine not exceeding the sum of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) pursuant to Section 1-14 of the Code of the City of Lakeland, Florida, or as otherwise provided by law.”

The resolution is set to expire on September 8 unless extended or otherwise voted upon by the City Commission.

Here is where this gets confusing…

Mandatory face masks are only required within the Lakeland city limits. Lakeland zip codes cover everything from Shepherd Road in south Lakeland all the way up to 471 in north Lakeland, and County Line road on the west to the Polk Parkway on the east side. However, Lakeland City Limits do not cover all Lakeland zipcodes, instead they cover a smaller area.

In some places one side of the road is in the city and the other is not – for example, Lake Miriam Publix is in the city limits, while Greenwise across the street is not.

There is no good way to describe where the city limits fall, click here to see a map of the Legal Boundary for the City of Lakeland.

Businesses with a Lakeland address but not in the Lakeland City Limits fall under the jurisdiction of Polk County. At this point in time, the Polk County Commission has not indicated any plans to require masks in Polk County.

Keep in mind if you are in a business and the face mask requirement is not being enforced, it is possible the business is not in the city limits. Businesses can also choose to require face masks inside even if they are not located within the city limits.

Some companies are requiring masks in all stores, regardless of location, including Publix, WalMart, Target, and more.

Why require face masks now?

This is not the first time the issue has been discussed, at a meeting on June 22, the commission heard from local health care officials from Lakeland Regional Health and Watson Clinic. After much discussion, the City Commission did not take a vote on a mask mandate. After almost two weeks of increasing case numbers, the commission scheduled a special called meeting on the issue of face masks. This morning they heard from Dr. Joy Jackson, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County, regarding the current status and trends of COVID-19 in Lakeland and Polk County.

From the CDC: “A cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others. Wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. Cloth face coverings may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

Who should NOT use cloth face coverings: children under age 2, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance” SOURCE

For more information, visit the City of Lakeland Website.

Click here to find out where to buy Face Masks in Lakeland.