Are masks a must at City Hall? You must wear one again in Key West government buildings

·2 min read

The city of Key West on Monday announced that people must again wear masks while inside all government buildings because of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We want to be sure that our staff and our citizens stay healthy,” City Manager Patti McLauchlin said in a statement. “We’ve come so far and we want to stay strong and continue to recover.”

Key West’s rule revival means the people attending meetings such as Tuesday’s 5 p.m. City Commission at City Hall must mask up.

“This applies to visitors as well as staff,” said city spokeswoman Alyson Crean. “We encourage social distancing at city meetings as well as requiring masks indoors.”

The Southernmost City’s return to a mask mandate in government buildings comes after Florida set a record Saturday by reporting 21,683 new COVID-19 cases to the federal government. That broke the record set in January of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on July 27. Now, the agency says vaccinated people should wear masks indoors when in public if they are in areas where COVID is spreading.

In the Keys, 59.3 percent of the island chain’s 74,000 residents have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Monroe County government does not have a mask mandate in place for its buildings.

“Masks are optional,” said County Mayor Michelle Coldiron in a text message Monday. “Like always, we are encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

Last week, the Monroe County School District announced that masks are optional for students and teachers this year. But the district added that masks are “highly recommended for everyone” while indoors.

Other South Florida cities have also returned to requiring masks in local government buildings.

On Sunday, Key Biscayne Mayor Michael Davey announced that the village will require masks in all government facilities starting Monday. Last Wednesday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava mandated masks at all county facilities. She also urged businesses to require facial coverings indoors as well.

Miami Beach said masks are now required in city buildings, too.

Starting Monday, the grocery giant Publix is requiring its employees to wear masks at its stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

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