Face Covering Ordinance

At the August 18 regular City Commission meeting, the City Commissioners approved Ordinance No. 2020-15, which will remain in effect until a repealing Ordinance is passed. The ordinance can be repealed upon a first and second reading and majority vote of the Commission at any time.

The Face Covering Ordinance requires persons that live, work, visit or do business in the City of Lake Wales, Florida to wear face coverings in certain indoor public places to stop or slow the spread of Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

To read the original City of Lake Wales Ordinance No. 2020-15 Face Coverings click HERE.

To read the City of Lake Wales Press Release regarding Face Coverings click HERE.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When did this requirement take effect and when does it end?

Ordinance No. 2020-15 went into effect August 18, 2020. The Ordinance shall remain in full force and effect until the City Commission approves a repealing Ordinance. 

What is a face covering?

A face covering is defined as a uniform piece of material that securely covers a person's nose and mouth and remains affixed in place without the use of one's hands, whether store-bought or homemade. Examples of compliant homemade masks may be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html.

Medical and surgical face masks, such as "N95" masks or other similar medical or surgical masks, are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare personnel and other first responders with the greatest need for such personal protective equipment. 

Where are face coverings required?

In indoor public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

How will this Ordinance be enforced?

It is the City's intent to seek voluntary compliance with the provisions contained in Ordinance 2020-15 and to educate and warn of the dangers of noncompliance. However, in the event of noncompliance, the Lake Wales Police Department is empowered to investigate any situation where a business/person is alleged to be violating this Ordinance. The Lake Wales Police Department is authorized to issue a noncriminal civil citation as provided in § 162.21, Florida Statutes:

  • Initial warning for a first offense
  • A civil fine of $50.00 for a second offense
  • A civil fine of $100.00 for a third offense

What do I do if I observe someone not following the Ordinance? 

Keep in mind that any individual you observe not wearing a mask may qualify for one of the below exemptions. Do not confront or start an argument with other individuals. 

Stay at least 6-feet away from people who are not wearing face coverings. You can call or talk to the business about your concerns if you see staff or customers who are not wearing face covers in indoor public settings while not social distancing. 

Does the requirement include all of Polk County?

No, this Ordinance only applies to the City of Lake Wales official City limits.

Does this Ordinance affect my concealed carry permit or right to bear arms?

This Ordinance is not intended and does not in any way conflict with Chapter 790, Florida Statutes, which regulates concealed weapons and firearms.

What are the requirements for businesses?

All business operators of an indoor location of a business that is open to the public in the City of Lake Wales shall make reasonable efforts to require all persons within the location to wear a face covering when not maintaining social distancing from other person(s), excluding family members or others residing in their home and subject to the exception in Paragraph 9 of the Ordinance.

Business operators must post signage on all public entrances indicating face coverings must be worn inside unless an exemption in Paragraph 9 of this Ordinance is applicable (printable compliant signage is available on Lake Wales' website).

"Business" as used herein shall mean any commercial or for-profit entity (regardless of corporate structure or formation) that provides goods or services directly to the public. "Business" as used herein does not include religious organizations or private clubs nor does it include any location under the control of the Polk County Public Schools or the Lake Wales Charter Schools, which shall establish their own policy for all locations within the City. "Business" as used herein also includes nonprofit and not-for-profit entities which offer goods or services for sale to the general public in indoor locations.

"Business operator" as used herein shall mean any individual that controls the operation of an indoor location of a business, regardless of the formal title or role held by that individual or entity.

Are there any exemptions to this Ordinance? 

a. Persons under the age of eight years; and

b. Persons observing social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines; and

c. Persons for whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition; No business operator or employee shall ask a person not wearing a face covering pursuant to this exemption to identify a specific health condition or supply documentation thereof, nor shall any business operator or employee deny such person admittance or service because he/she is not wearing a face covering; and

d. Persons working in a business or profession who do not have interactions with other persons; and

e. Persons working in a business or profession who maintain social distancing from another person; and

f. Persons working in a business or profession where use of a face covering would prevent them from performing the duties of the business or profession; and

g. Persons exercising, while maintaining social distancing; and

h. Persons eating or drinking; and

i. Children under the age of eighteen participating in private, public, or nonprofit organized youth activities, including youth sports teams and leagues, youth clubs and programs, child care, summer camps and youth recreation camps; and

j. Public safety, fire and other life safety and health care personnel, as their personal protective equipment requirements will be governed by their respective agencies; and

k. The requirement shall not apply when a person who is hearing-impaired needs to see the mouth of someone wearing a face covering in order to communicate; and

l. The requirement shall not be applied in a manner that would conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).