DeSantis Lifted All COVID Rules. Where Does That Leave Miami-Dade's Mask Mandate?

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This week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order suspending all coronavirus-related safety orders implemented by counties and municipalities across the state. That includes mask mandates, which Miami-Dade has had on the books in one form or another for the past year.

During a press conference in St. Petersburg on Monday, DeSantis said the vaccine makes masking unnecessary.

”If we have widespread vaccinations that are over 99 percent effective, what’s the evidence basis for somebody to wear a mask now?’’ the governor said.

So where does that leave Miami-Dade's rules? It's complicated, but in short, masks are still required in many of the places where you've become accustomed to wearing them. County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava issued a statement Tuesday reiterating that we are still, in fact, dealing with a public-health emergency and that masks continue to be required on county-owned property.

"Miami-Dade County will continue to require key COVID safety precautions, including masking, distancing, and disinfecting at all county spaces, including libraries, county parks, and county buildings," Cava said. "A federal mask mandate remains in place for public transit, Miami International Airport, and PortMiami."

DeSantis' order suspended "all remaining local emergency restrictions on individuals and businesses" to facilitate a return to "day-to-day life" everywhere in Florida. Although businesses are no longer mandated to follow COVID-19 safety provisions like masking and social distancing, they can make their own rules. So some businesses might ask customers to mask up, while others might not.

Cava has asked local businesses to stick to safety basics.

"I urge our business community to continue to keep the fundamentals in place — masking, distancing, disinfecting, and staying home when sick — to protect all our residents and visitors," the mayor said. "And I've been encouraged by businesses we have already heard from who are voluntarily choosing to keep these precautions in place for the safety of their employees and customers."

The Miami Herald reports that stores like Target, Walmart, Publix, Winn-Dixie, and Fresco y Más are still requiring employees and customers to wear masks. Many drugstores, sporting venues, and public school districts aren't budging on mask rules, either.

Florida's surgeon general, Scott Rivkees, issued a health advisory last week stating that fully vaccinated Floridians no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, recommends that people still wear masks in indoor public settings. The CDC also suggests wearing masks when gathering indoors with unvaccinated people from more than one other household and when visiting high-risk people who haven't received the vaccine. The agency says that people should still avoid large indoor gatherings.

The CDC also recommends that Americans get vaccinated. New Times has compiled a list of vaccine sites across Miami-Dade, including drive-up and walk-up sites (and at least one Wynwood bar) that don't require appointments.

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