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Friday, September 29, 2023

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Winter Haven Passes Face Covering Emergency

Release by City of Winter Haven:

On Monday, July 13, 2020, the Winter Haven City Commission held the regular Commission Meeting when an Emergency Ordinance was discussed to require masks/face coverings inside the City limits consistent with CDC guidelines.  The City Commission voted unanimously in favor of Emergency Ordinance O-20-28.

Emergency Ordinance No. O-20-28 will go into effect Tuesday, July 14 at 5 p.m. and will expire August 14 at 5 p.m. unless rescinded and/or extended. The Emergency Ordinance will be enforced in the area inside the incorporated limit of Winter Haven with a fine of $150 for those that don’t comply.

There are exemptions to the Emergency Ordinance that preclude the requirement to wear a mask. Some of these exemptions include children under eight years old, if a medical issue prohibits the wearing of a mask, issues regarding ADA compliance, persons exercising while social distancing, individuals who have an occupation that prohibits a mask, those who are eating and drinking, those communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, and when social distancing is practiced.

City Manager Mike Herr said, “The goal of this Ordinance is to reduce the infection rate of Covid-19 while at the same time keeping our community open for business. By wearing a mask we are helping others stay well.  Wearing a face covering during a pandemic is the right thing to do.  We are each other’s neighbors here in Winter Haven, and this our time to stand up in support of our fellow citizen by covering our face to limit the spread of this new virus.  By reducing the spread, we will also alleviate our local health care and first-responder resources and professionals of undue stress and difficulty.  Public Safety staff will work hard to provide information to educate those not complying with the Ordinance.  Fining the public for not complying is not the end-goal we want.”

The Ordinance can be found HERE.

This meeting was conducted virtually using remote meeting technology allowing the public to speak during the meeting, and live streaming on Facebook allowing the public to watch. In addition, City Hall was open for the public to watch the meeting on a screen with social distancing, and a podium and camera was available for citizens to speak during public comment opportunities. A call-in communication option was provided where the public could call prior to the meeting to formally voice their opinion. All public input was shared prior to the final vote being taken.

The City of Winter Haven strongly urges all citizens to follow the CDC guidelines including social distancing, hand washing and staying home if ill or if there is exposure with someone with Covid-19.  Emergency Ordinance No. O-20-28 along with Frequently Asked Questions, a link to an interactive City of Winter Haven map, and further information can be found on the City’s website on the Covid-19 page HERE.

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