I am an attorney who primarily practices bankruptcy. The legality of Executive Orders issued by various governmental entities or officials is not a subject to which I devote much effort. Ask a question about bankruptcy and I am likely to know the answer. There are attorneys and persons who are not attorneys who are better versed on the legality of such executive orders. This article will not address the legality or enforceability of the executive order administered in Hillsborough County and Tampa.
On July 7, 2020, an Executive Order was issued, titled Executive Order Of The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group Requiring The Wearing Of Protective Face Coverings As Extended And Amended At Its July 6, 2020 Meeting.
The most important elements of the Executive Order are the mandates and exemptions. When analyzing a Statute, Executive Order, or other legal documents, it is advised that one break down the subject of your examination into parts, in the form of an outline. Words are important and have important meanings, especially when analyzing legal documents, statutes, and governmental ordinances and executive orders.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY CORONAVIRUS MANDATES
The order states THE EMERGENCY POLICY GROUP OF HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY in a MEETING ASSEMBLED this 6th day of July, 2020, ISSUES this EXECUTIVE ORDER RESOLVING that:
- ALL BUSINESS OPERATORS of an INDOOR BUSINESS that is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC in HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY shall make REASONABLE EFFORTS to REQUIRE ALL PERSONS WITHIN THE LOCATION to WEAR A FACE COVERING when
- NOT MAINTAINING SOCIAL DISTANCING from other PERSONS
*OTHERS RESIDING IN THE SAME HOME
In such an instance, the executive order, as it is described in its title, states that such business owners must make REASONABLE EFFORTS. REASONABLE EFFORTS is defined as the business owner taking the following steps:
- POST SIGNAGE on all PUBLIC ENTRANCES indicating FACE COVERINGS must be worn UNLESS
- An EXEMPTION is applicable
- If the BUSINESS is equipped with a PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT or PA SYSTEM, over which ANNOUNCEMENTS TO PATRONS are made, then make REGULAR ANNOUNCEMENTS
Reminding ALL PERSONS that FACE COVERINGS MUST BE WORN
- REQUIRE ALL EMPLOYEES NOT EXEMPT from wearing a face covering to wear a face covering
In any INDOOR LOCATION of the BUSINESS
- Make ALL OTHER REASONABLE EFFORTS including ASKING PATRONS not wearing face covering to do so
It is important that the reader carefully consider the meaning of all the foregoing words, especially the words that the writer has displayed in bold. For example, the plain meaning of the executive order is:
- You are not required to wear a face covering if you maintain social distancing
- You are not required to maintain social distancing with family members or those residing in the
- The order does not apply to businesses that are not indoor businesses
- The order does not apply to businesses that are not open to the public
- The business owner or operator is not required to enforce the order, but are only required to follow the minimum steps, outlined above.
- The executive order does not state the business owner must enforce such order, but only that the business owner must make reasonable efforts, as defined above.
- Family members and those residing in the same household as the member, are not required under the order to maintain social distancing under any circumstance.
- Any employee claiming an exemption, mentioned below, is not mandated to wear a face covering.
- Curious how an executive order resolves that such prescriptions be followed. How can an executive order resolve something? Shouldn’t an executive order, order something?
- Also, mentioned below, any business owner or employee may not deny any person claiming the health exemption deny such person admittance or service because he/she is not wearing a face covering.
- If the business has a pa system but it is not used to address customers in the confines of the business, the business is not under any obligation to use such system to remind any customers that a face covering must be used.
I am certain the reader can identify other exceptions based upon the process of analysis described by the writer.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY AND TAMPA EXEMPTIONS FROM WEARING OF MASKS OR FACE COVERINGS
- PERSONS under 8 years of age
- PERSONS OBSERVING SOCIAL DISTANCING
- PERSONS for whom a FACE COVERING would cause IMPAIRMENT due to an EXISTING HEALTH CONDITION. NO BUSINESS OWNER or EMPLOYEE shall ASK A PERSON not wearing a face covering pursuant to this EXEMPTION to IDENTIFY a SPECIFIC HEALTH CONDITION or SUPPLY
DOCUMENTATION, nor shall any BUSINESS OPERATOR or EMPLOYEE deny such person ADMITTANCE OR SERVICE because he/she is not wearing a face covering
- PERSONS WORKING in a BUSINESS that DO NOT HAVE INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER PERSONS
- PERSONS WORKING IN A BUSINESS OR PROFESSION that MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING
- PERSONS WORKING in BUSINESS OR PROFESSION which use of face covering would prevent them from performing the duties of the BUSINESS or PROFESSION
- PERSON EXERCISING
- PERSONS EATING OR DRINKING
The list of exemptions continues, including children under 18 participating in organized youth activities, sports and other programs, persons who are hearing impaired who need to see the mouth of the person with whom they are communicating, and any application of the order that would conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has signed a similar executive order, entitled EXECUTIVE ORDER 2020-30, that essentially incorporates all the terms described in the Hillsborough executive order. The most significant difference between the executive order issued by the Tampa Mayor and the Hillsborough executive order is the Tampa order, in addition to its other exemptions, grants an exemption for “persons for whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition” whereas the Hillsborough order is much more expansive. As Tampa is a part of the larger Hillsborough County, this writer will surmise that any conflict between the Tampa executive order issued by Castor, and the Hillsborough executive order would be settled by reference to the Hillsborough executive order.
HILLSBOROUGH AND TAMPA EXECUTIVE ORDERS RELATING TO CORONAVIRUS
Neither the Tampa Mayor Castor nor Hillsborough County is hiding any of this information. In fact, it is quite easy to find the information provided in the links above.
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