Florida Sheriff Bans Masks

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods forbade staff — and visitors — from wearing them.

A Sheriff in Florida has ordered all staff not to wear masks.

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods told employees in an email that face coverings while on duty were now banned — and the same goes for any member of the public hoping to enter the Sheriff’s office.

“My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn,” he decreed, per Ocala.com.

He made exceptions for people working at the courthouse, jail, public schools, and hospitals, and those dealing with people suspected of being infected with COVID-19, or at high risk of complications from the disease.

However: “for all of these exceptions, the moment that enforcement action is to be taken and it requires you to give an individual orders/commands to comply, the mask will be immediately removed,” Woods said.

Even staff who are hired for external events must inform organizers that they will not wear them.

Anyone who confronts an officer about it must “politely and professionally tell them I am not required to wear a mask nor will I, per the Order of the Sheriff” — and walk away.

“From that point on it will be my burden and responsibility to take care of the person and answer their problem, complaint or their question.”

He also advised all employees that any members of the public who say they are uncomfortable waiting in the lobby with people without masks must give their cell phone numbers and go stand outside or wait in their cars, until called.

“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t,” he argued.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic the operation of this office has not changed and no wearing of masks has been put in place.”

According to the publication, at least 36 employees at the Marion County Jail, and seven more outside the jail, and 200 inmates have already tested positive; one nurse at the jail who contracted the virus died.

While mask policies vary from state to state, Florida does not have a state-wide mandate to wear one.

According to Ocala.com, several other counties have also directed officers not to wear masks on duty, claiming it impedes communication when clarity is vital.

Florida remains the second-hardest hit state by COVID-19 — with over 551,000 cases and 8,764 deaths to date — behind only California.

[via TooFab]

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