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In Broward County, FL, Masks in Homes Remains Unclear from Confusing Emergency Order


Broward County Emergency Order 20-22, which imposes a curfew from 11 pm to 5 am, is under fire for a questionably worded section.

Section 4 A appears to suggest that residents must wear masks inside of their own homes. 

The order specifically mentions both single family or multi-family homes.

However, local news reports that masks are not required for those living in their home.

Rather, it appears that the intention of the order was to mandate that visitors inside your home must wear a mask.

Order 20-22 states:

All persons who reside on any residential property, whether single family or multi-family, and irrespective of whether they own or rent the property, must ensure that all persons on the residential property, including guests, comply with all applicable guidelines of any Broward County Emergency Order, including the facial covering requirements.

It’s no wonder people are confused!

Broward County has gotten more strict after a surge in COVID-19 cases.

However, many residents are complaining that the order is to strict.

Some are also pointing out that sections (such as Section 4A) are questionably worded and are unclear in their meaning.

The Miami Herald reports that family members don't need to wear masks in their homes. However, they didn't report on guests:

Depending on the situation, police can also still charge violators of the county’s “New Normal” guidelines with a “second-degree criminal misdemeanor carrying fines of up to $500 and 180 days in jail,” according to the county’s news release.

Exceptions to the mask mandate in Miami-Dade include children younger than 2, anyone who has a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering and anyone who is hearing-impaired or is communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired.

Anyone who is “actively” eating or drinking, is swimming or is participating in a “strenuous exercise” such as playing basketball also do not need to wear a mask. Keep in mind that if you are exercising inside a gym, fitness center or dance studio, you will need to wear a mask. You also do not need to wear your mask inside your personal car or inside your home.

Miami’s mask fine policy became stricter Monday.

Now, mask violators can expect a $50 fine for their first offense (and a free mask if supplies are still available), a $100 fine for the second offense and a $500 fine for their third offense, according to Miami police.

Previously, Miami police would give mask violators a warning and a free mask for their first offense.

Anyone who is caught violating the city’s mask mandate after receiving the $500 fine may be subject to arrest or receive a notice to appear in court, police said.

Residents can also face up to 60 days in jail for violating the order.

In Palm Beach County, residents are required to wear a mask any time that they leave the house.

Though Section 4A certainly sounds like people are required to wear masks inside their home, the Media Liaison for the Office of Public Communications suggested that the order only applies for guests.

The Prepared reports:

This afternoon, when I spoke on the phone with Lori Shepard, Media Liaison for the Office of Public Communications, it seemed like she wasn’t aware of a rule that said residents needed to mask up in their own homes. “If you’re in your own home and you’re with your family… the county is not asking you wear a mask,” Shepard said. “If you have visitors to your home, for persons more than 10, then they need to be wearing a mask.”

I asked for clarification, and Shepard read through the section again. She noted that the order actually limits gatherings to fewer than 10 people.

“If somebody comes into your house and they’re not a family member, you should ask them to wear a mask,” she said.

Emergency Order 20-22 appears to be an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through house parties and large social gatherings, not to restrict people in their homes. The County’s website reads:

The measures are designed to help curtail house parties, street parties and other large social gatherings that are contributing to community spread of the virus. Short-term vacation rentals are also impacted by the order, and there are new requirements for restaurants, gym and fitness centers, and operators and landlords of commercial properties that have retail establishments.

The messaging on the new order is unclear, however. It’s hard to imagine that the county intended to mandate that people wear masks inside their own homes with those who live with them. Instead, it seems from Shepard’s comments and Broward County’s stated intent that the emergency order is meant to curtail parties. So people must mask up when they have guests over.

Beyond this statement from the Office of Public Communications, there is no indication as to what Section 4A truly means.

If people are going to be fined or potentially face imprisonment, then the city should be clear on what exactly the order requires.

As of now, however, it appears that the order raises more questions than answers and solutions.


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