Hillsborough Eases Penalties On Businesses That Don't Enforce Face Mask Rules
Businesses in Hillsborough County that fail to enforce rules for customers to wear masks indoors will no longer face criminal penalties.
Members of the county's Emergency Policy Group voted Monday to rescind a policy they approved two weeks ago. They instead said civil penalties could be levied for not making "reasonable efforts" to require face masks and enforce social distancing of customers.
Many business owners voiced objections to the criminal charge, which was considered a second-degree misdemeanor. Instead, fines of up to $150 could be levied if violations are considered a threat to public health.
Customers could also face penalties for not wearing a face covering.
The move came as coronavirus cases are surging to new heights. Douglas Holt of the Florida Department of Health told board members the 14-day average of new cases was up.
“While this represents an increase of 181%, I would call your attention to the 7-day average, which has actually decreased in the last three days,” Holt said. “My hope that this is a trend and we have plateaued, but we will see.”
The Florida Department of Health’s Monday report shows almost 15,000 people in Hillsborough County have tested positive for the coronavirus.