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Yes, you read that headline right! The sheriff of Marion County Florida is quoted saying “So, as for us, my order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn,”
This has sparked major controversy in the State of Florida and on the national level.
The sheriff of Marion County, in which part of The Villages lies, has banned mask-wearing by deputies & sheriff's office visitors following a phone conversation with President Trump https://t.co/r8Zwj9QeeK
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) August 12, 2020
Florida sheriff bans employees from wearing a mask.
So, if you were pulled over by an officer not wearing a mask, would you roll down the window? https://t.co/618qIwsNV7
— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) August 13, 2020
Marion Co. Sheriff Billy Woods has ordered his deputies, office employees not to wear masks while on duty. https://t.co/hCYkmeLL6t
— CBS4 Miami (@CBSMiami) August 13, 2020
CBS News had this to say about Sheriff Billy Wood’s decision:
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods has instructed employees of his office, in Florida, not to wear masks when they are on duty, barring some exceptions. “This is no longer a debate nor is it up for discussion,” he said in an email to employees.
Woods noted the mayor of Ocala, which is the largest city in Florida’s Marion County, vetoed a mask mandate that was recently passed by the city council. He said the veto is expected to be overruled but that the ordinance exempts government entities, leaving the decision of whether or not to mandate masks to the figure heads.
“So, as for us, my order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn,” Woods wrote in his email, which was sent to CBS News on Wednesday by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office public information director.
Employees, however, can wear “only pre-approved masks” in some cases: if HR instructs them to, and if they are at hospitals, the courthouse, the jail, or public or private schools that have mask mandates for students. Deputies should also carry masks while on patrol in case they have to respond to a nursing home or assisted living facility, a known COVID-19 address alert from dispatch, or a call that involves a high-risk elderly individual, Woods said.
“For all of these exceptions, the moment that enforcement action is to be taken and it requires you to give an individual orders/commands to comply, the mask will be immediately removed,” Woods’ email reads.
He said deputies should not wear masks at any special event or special detail.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 13, 2020
Fox 13 News had this to say about the face mask ban:
MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods is making national headlines after forbidding his deputies and visitors to the sheriff’s office from wearing face masks, according to a memo he released. This after Florida reported its largest single-day jump in deaths yet on Tuesday.
FOX 35 obtained the memo on Wednesday. In it, Sheriff Woods says that “effective immediately, any individual walking into any one of our lobbies (which includes the main office and all district offices) that is wearing a mask will be asked to remove it.”
He added that “in light of the current events when it comes to the sentiment and/or hatred toward law enforcement in our country today, this is being done to ensure there is clear communication and for identification purposes of any individual walking into a lobby.”
The email concluded with Woods saying “this is no longer a debate nor is it up for discussion. Please keep in mind this entire pandemic is fluid and constantly changing the way things are done. However, my orders will be followed or my actions will be swift to address.”
I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we hear from Marion County, Florida. In the upcoming days, I’m sure some employees will defy the Sheriff’s ban and it will make national headlines. Do you think the sheriff has gone too far?