Face Coverings Resolution FAQs

On July 27, County Commissioners enacted a local resolution requiring face coverings inside business in Manatee County.

Download face coverings signs to display at your business

Frequently Asked Questions

When will this requirement take effect?

The requirement went into effect immediately after adoption at 6:30 p.m. on July 27, 2020.

Who is required to wear a face covering?

Any individual in a business establishment in Manatee County must wear a face covering while in that business establishment. A “business establishment” means a location with a roof overhead under which any business is conducted, goods are made or stored or processed or where services are rendered. The term “business establishment” includes transportation network companies, such as Ubers and Lyft, vehicles operated for mass transit, taxis, limousines for hire, rental cars, and other passenger vehicles for hire. The term “business establishment” includes locations where non-profit, governmental, and quasi-governmental entities facilitate public interactions and conduct business. The term “business establishment” also includes places of worship.

However, there are exceptions to the face covering requirement.

What are the exceptions to the face covering requirement?

Facial coverings are not required to be worn by the following persons:

  • Situations in which individuals maintain 6 feet or more of distance between persons. This exception does not apply to employees who are present in the kitchen or other food and beverage preparation area of a business establishment. Nor does it apply to employees serving food or beverages.
  • A child under the age of 6.
  • Persons who have trouble breathing due to a chronic pre-existing condition or individuals with a documented or demonstrable medical problem. It is the intent of this provision that those individuals who cannot tolerate a facial covering for a medical, sensory or any other condition which makes it difficult for them to utilize a facial covering and function in public are not required to wear one.
  • Public safety, fire, and other life safety and health care personnel, as their personal protective equipment requirements will be governed by their respective agencies.
  • Restaurant and bar patrons eating or drinking. It is the intent of this provision that a face covering will be worn while traversing a business establishment for ingress and egress, to use the facilities, and while otherwise standing when persons are unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distancing.
  • An individual in a lodging establishment who is inside of the lodging unit, including, but not limited to, a hotel room, motel room, vacation rental unit, timeshare unit, or similar unit.

Where are face coverings required?

In a business establishment which is defined as a location with a roof overhead under which any business is conducted, goods are made or stored or processed or where services are rendered. The term “business establishment” includes transportation network companies, such as Ubers and Lyft, vehicles operated for mass transit, taxis, limousines for hire, rental cars, and other passenger vehicles for hire. The term “business establishment” includes locations where non-profit, governmental, and quasi-governmental entities facilitate public interactions and conduct business. The term “business establishment” also includes places of worship.

Do I need to wear a face covering while exercising indoors?

You do not need to wear a face covering while exercising indoors if you are able to keep six feet of distance from others. Face coverings are not required outdoors in Manatee County.

Does the requirement include all of Manatee County?

Yes. The resolution requiring face coverings is intended to have countywide application. Local cities may adopt different rules and procedures.

Is a business required to post that face coverings are required while indoors?

Yes. All businesses must post a notice visible to all customers that face coverings are required. Signage for business owners is available here.

Is a business required to enforce the emergency order?

No. Local law enforcement is responsible for enforcing the Emergency Resolution. However, businesses should inform patrons of the requirement and allow them to comply.

What is considered a face covering?

A “face covering” is a material that covers the nose and mouth and that fits snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. Coverings with materials made of multiple layers is highly encouraged. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand, or the cloth face covering can be improvised from household items. View additional information regarding how to make, wear, and wash a cloth face covering from the CDC.

What if I don’t have a face covering?

Homemade coverings, bandanas, scarves and neck gaiters are all OK. The CDC has provided simple steps for making a cloth face covering with everyday items from your home. Watch a video showing how to make a cloth face covering.

Cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Be made of more than one layer of fabric that you can still breathe through
  • Be able to be washed and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Cloth face coverings should be washed after each use. It is important to always remove face coverings correctly and wash your hands after handling or touching a used face covering. Follow the CDC’s guidance on how to properly wash cloth face coverings.

How well do cloth face coverings work to prevent spread of COVID-19?

Health experts agree that face coverings can be very effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

The primary role of the use of face coverings is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing, washing hands, and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions.

Are face coverings required on mass transit and in rideshares Uber/Lyft/taxis?

Yes, face coverings should be used in conjunction with other infectious disease precautionary measures to protect you and those around you.

Are face coverings required in churches?

Yes, if the service is conducted indoors and under a roof, and if social distancing (6 feet apart or more) cannot be practiced.

How will this order be enforced?

Local law enforcement is responsible for enforcing the Emergency Resolution. The intent of the requirement is to allow the community to resume normal activities while also preventing the further spread of COVID-19. However, any person violating this face covering requirement may receive a noncriminal infraction. A violation does not authorize the search or arrest of any individual. Prior to issuing any citation, the individual will be asked to comply with the order or be able to explain how they are exempt. The first violation of the requirement will result in a written warning. A second offense would be a fine of $50. The second violation would be a fine of $125. All subsequent violations would be a fine up to $250.

What should I do if I see someone without a face covering?

For your own safety, do not confront individuals without face coverings. Stay 6 feet away from people who are not wearing face coverings. If someone is not wearing a face covering, please consider that the individual may have a valid reason, including concerns for their own safety. Others may have breathing problems or health issues you do not know about. People who cannot wear a cloth face covering are not required to show proof of their medical condition nor are they required to name their medical condition.

How long will the face covering requirement remain in effect?

Until repealed.

Does the resolution apply to organizations that provide shared housing?

The face covering requirement applies to a business establishment or lodging establishment (see definitions below).

A “business establishment” means a location with a roof overhead under which any business is conducted, goods are made or stored or processed or where services are rendered. The term “business establishment” includes transportation network companies, such as Ubers and Lyft, vehicles operated for mass transit, taxis, jitneys, limousines for hire, rental cars, and other passenger vehicles for hire. The term “business establishment” includes locations where non-profit, governmental, and quasi-governmental entities facilitate public interactions and conduct business. The term “business establishment” also includes places of worship.

A “lodging establishment” shall have the same meaning as the term “transient public lodging establishment” has in section 509.013(4)(a)1, Florida Statutes (2019). Accordingly, for purposes of this Emergency Resolution, a “lodging establishment” means any unit, group of units, dwelling, building, or group of buildings within a single complex of buildings which is rented to guests more than three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or one calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to guests.

What authority does the Commission have to require face coverings?

It is the duty of Manatee County to take protective measures including, but not limited to, development of incident action response plans, procurement of personal protective equipment, pandemic preventative training and exercise coordination, and similar activities to protect the public health and safety of the community. Section 252.46, Florida Statutes, and Article II of Chapter 2-13 of the Manatee County Code, authorize the Board of County Commissioners of Manatee County, Florida to declare a state of local emergency and to exercise emergency powers and authority to carry out the provisions of Sections 252.31 through 252.90, Florida Statutes.

Why does the county's emergency resolution require face coverings in indoor spaces?

Public health experts have stated indoor activities are especially at risk places for the spread of COVID-19. In general, the more closely a person interacts with others and the longer the interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.

Epidemiologists also point to mitigating the “three Cs” of transmission: closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded settings, and close contact with others. That means encouraging outdoor seating when possible and maximizing ventilation in any indoor settings, limiting the number of people inside rooms and buildings, and continuing to keep individuals spaced apart by at least 6 feet.

Are kids doing indoor sports required to wear masks while training?

No, if you are exercising while observing 6 feet of distancing from other persons you are not required to wear a mask. Children under age 6 are not required to wear a mask.

Does this resolution apply to child-care settings?

Yes. An individual in a business establishment must wear a face covering while in that business establishment. The resolution exempts a child under the age of 6.

Can I wear a face shield instead of a face covering and be in compliance with the emergency resolution?

No. The Centers for Disease Control do not recommend the use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. Specifically, the emergency resolution says that face coverings must fit snugly around the nose and mouth and a face shield does not.

Does the emergency resolution apply to public schools operated by the Manatee County School Board?

No. The Manatee County School Board has independent home rule powers related to, and responsibility for, the management, control, operation, administration, and supervision of all free public schools within the school district. Learn more about Manatee County Schools’ response to COVID-19 in reopening schools.

Does the emergency resolution apply to private schools, laboratory research schools, charter schools, or other specialty schools?

Yes. All of the above-mentioned schools must comply with the emergency resolution.