If you leave your house or hotel room in Key West, you must wear a mask regardless of your ability to social distance, according to a new emergency ordinance that city officials passed Thursday morning.

Commissioner Greg Davila likened the tightened mask requirements to “pressing the reset button” on the rules. 

The City Commission met in a special session Thursday morning with 111 online participants to discuss the city’s efforts to contain the community spread of COVID-19 and enforce mask regulations, especially in crowded downtown areas, including Duval Street, Southernmost Point, Mallory Square and the Historic Seaport.

Such areas could eventually be deemed “mask zones,” but City Attorney Shawn Smith said such zoning would create a patchwork that could lead to inconsistency and create enforcement difficulties.

The commission heard from several business owners who passionately asked lawmakers to avoid business shutdowns.

“…widespread, consistent usage of masks and other facial coverings will help the City to avoid future business closures, provide confidence to business customers and tourists, and help limit economic harm to the community,” the new ordinance states. “…wearing masks and other facial coverings is a more cost effective means of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic than business closures or other solutions…”

Mayor Teri Johnston asked for cooperation among the business community and its organizations in order to get the COVID positivity rate under control.

“We also need to discuss New Year’s Eve because any protective measures we take will need to be conveyed quickly and effectively,” Johnston said, although no decisions were made Thursday about New Year’s Eve.

 

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