TAMPA, Fla. — Face covering requirements get complicated quickly, especially in the state of Florida, because the rule changes from one town to the next.
Let's start with the federal mask mandate, which went into effect on Jan. 21 under President Joe Biden's administration.
The White House confirms you must wear a mask while on any federal property, so if you're visiting a national park, including the De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton, you'll need a mask.
Under federal rules, you have to wear a mask while you're at an airport, on a plane, train, city bus boat or ferry.
There is not and never has been a statewide order requiring face coverings in Florida, although many local governments have implemented their own restrictions.
In September, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced all outstanding fines and penalties against individuals for failing to follow local mask rules were suspended. Since then no city or county is allowed to fine an individual for not following local facemask orders.
County and city governments still have the authority to implement their own emergency orders regarding facemasks and COVID-19 protocols. In the Tampa Bay area, some are still in effect while others have expired in recent months.
You must wear a mask indoors at public places.
According to the county's website, "To further protect the public against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Hillsborough County's Emergency Policy Group (EPG) enacted an order requiring that face coverings be worn inside businesses that are open to the public, with certain exceptions."
In Tampa, people must also wear a face covering in any public indoor location when not maintaining social distancing. Children under 5 are exempt.
It has been effective since June.
An additional order was announced by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor ahead of Super Bowl LV requiring masks at crowded outdoor locations. That has since expired.
You must wear a face cover in indoor public places within Pinellas County, although the board provided several exceptions.
You can read the county's FAQ here.
The face covering requirement is part of a larger emergency order that's been renewed on a weekly basis. It also requires restaurants to space out tables, serve people when they're seated and ensure staff are wearing face masks.
If you're planning a trip to the Pinellas beaches for Spring Break, pack the mask because if you enter a restaurant or business, you're required to wear it when you're not eating and drinking.
Clearwater's website refers to the county emergency order.
For the most part, the city of St. Petersburg's emergency order aligns with the county, however, St. Petersburg also requires people to file a plan with the city if they intend on hosting any event with more than 250 people.
Mayor Rick Kriseman also ordered businesses to develop a COVID-19 plan and instructed their employees to wear a mask. That has been in effect since June.
You'll need to have a face covering handy across Pasco County as well, however that emergency order lists many exemptions including attending or participating in religious rituals.
If you're not wearing a mask indoors, you're expected to be physically distant from other people. You can read the county's FAQ here.
There is not a countywide mask mandate in Polk County, however, the county is providing free face coverings for people at 30 locations.
Since last spring, a handful of cities in Polk County passed emergency orders that have since expired.
According to Visit Central Florida, two cities currently enforce mask requirements in Polk County: Lake Wales and Lake Alfred. Both ordinances offer a list of exemptions.
It's important to remember that businesses can enact their own, additional mandates all around the state. For example, Disney requires all guests age 2 and older to wear masks while on the property.
Legoland and Busch Gardens in Tampa also currently require face coverings, for example.
Sarasota County does not have a countywide mask mandate.
The city of Sarasota allowed its mask mandate to expire last month however 10 Tampa Bay learned the city commission will be voting next Monday on a potential resolution.
Manatee County does not have a mask mandate in place.
Manatee County leaders repealed the countywide mask mandate in September following the state's move into Phase Three of reopening.
Ordinances requiring face coverings indoors are still in place in Longboat Key and Holmes Beach. Anna Maria requires face masks at City Hall and the City Pier when hosting events.
In July, Bradenton City Council voted to require businesses to place visible signs on their doors to ask customers to wear masks when inside.
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