CONTRIBUTED

Key West city officials strengthened the city’s mask requirements Monday afternoon, now requiring everyone older than six to wear a mask any time they are outside their residence, except while eating, regardless of social distancing capabilities. 

City spokeswoman Alyson Crean released a statement Monday afternoon from Key West Mayor Teri Johnston and City Manager Greg Veliz “in light of the dramatic increase” in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

“Effective immediately, every person over the age of six, while physically located in the City of Key West and who is away from their residence, is required to wear a mask, regardless of whether social distancing is maintained,” the new directive states.

“This amendment to Emergency Directive 2020-13 also directs operators and employees of business establishments to ensure that every individual in the establishment complies with this directive. It continues to allow restaurant patrons to remove their mask only when seated at a table and eating or drinking. 

“Individuals violating this directive are subject to a second-degree misdemeanor charge, which carries fines up to $500 and potential prison terms of up to 60 days, with higher penalties for repeated offenses.

“‘We cannot stress how important it is that we slow this infection rate down,’ Veliz said. ‘We have limited medical support on this small island, and the counties north of us are major national hot spots. Please, everyone, take personal responsibility and wear a mask.'”

Emergency directives are enforceable under the authorization of the governor’s emergency order, Crean told Keys Weekly, adding that Governor Ron DeSantis’s orders include language that allows cities and municipalities to enact stricter regulations than the statewide rules, but prohibits rules that are less strict than the governor’s mandates.

The city’s latest amended directive can be found in its entirety on the city’s website.

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