Florida Officer Bans His Employees and Visitors From Wearing Masks

This article was originally published on August 19, 2020.

The worldwide pandemic has hit all different parts of the world, and Florida is no exception. Florida has had one of the highest amounts of people infected, currently having 580,000 cases and around 9,757 deaths. Many are being hospitalized and there haven’t been many restrictions to refrain the illness from spreading. However, despite the increase in cases, one deputy in Florida has issued a ban from wearing masks.

Sheriff Billy Woods stated in an email, “My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my office – masks will not be worn.” Even visitors who come to the sheriff’s office are required to take off their masks. There are some exceptions that include those who work in higher-risk jobs such as jails or hospitals. In addition, Sheriff Woods instructed his workers to have a mask with them in case they are thrown into a situation where a mask is necessary. That being said, this ruling is shocking to many as more and more states are making masks mandatory instead.

Sheriff Woods told his employees that he found no evidence that wearing a mask is beneficial or works in any way to prevent receiving the illness, contradictory to many scientific protocols. One quote Sheriff Woods says in his email is, “We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the number of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t,” However, many people disagree with this statement.

The CDC, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, writes, “Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a mask will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants).” Therefore, the guidelines are clear when they say that wearing masks is only beneficial toward eliminating the spread of the pandemic.

Many are commenting that it’s unfair to take away other peoples’ rights to wear masks, even if he doesn’t want to wear them himself. Different states and cities have allowed different provisions and requirements about wearing masks, but this is the first time that someone has banned everyone from wearing them. This, however, isn’t the first time someone from Florida has gone against the requirement to wear masks. CBS states, “Ocala Mayor Kenty Guinn on Monday vetoed the mask mandate passed last week by the city council…” He claimed that the enforcement would be too hard to follow through with, despite the fact that many states and counties have been able to achieve this.

Sheriff Woods also stated in his email, “If at any time you are confronted by any individual complaining, berating you or just being a difficult individual, you will politely and professionally tell them ‘I am not required to wear a mask nor will I, per the Order of the Sheriff’ and then walk away from them,” comforting those who have been worried to not wear masks in the past.

People have a variety of opinions on the use of masks, but this ruling is very shocking to the vast majority of people. Overall, we hope that everyone is able to stay safe and wear masks, regardless of their opinions on masks or these mandates.