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21 Jul, 2020 16:23

Florida county ‘mask-at-home’ order draws bewilderment and outrage before authorities say it only applies to guests

Florida county ‘mask-at-home’ order draws bewilderment and outrage before authorities say it only applies to guests

A Covid-19 emergency order from Florida's Broward County seemingly mandating face coverings even at home has some Americans up in arms, but authorities – perhaps doing damage control – now say it applies only to guests.

The emergency order mandating masks in the home applies only to guests over the age of 10, Office of Public Communications media liaison Lori Shepard told prepper blog The Prepared on Monday. She explained that "if you're in your own home and you're with your family… the county is not asking you wear a mask."

"If somebody comes into your house and they're not a family member, you should ask them to wear a mask," she clarified.

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As it's worded, however, last week's Emergency Order 20-22 appears to threaten Broward County residents and their guests with hefty legal penalties if they don't "mask up" at home. However, it's unclear how either interpretation of the order would be enforced, short of regular home visits by the authorities.

"All persons who reside on any residential property, whether single family or multi-family, and irrespective of whether they own or rent the property, must ensure that all persons on the residential property, including guests, comply with all applicable guidelines of any Broward County Emergency Order, including the facial covering requirement."

Meanwhile, those who "fail to ensure compliance with all applicable Broward County Emergency Orders" would seem to face a per-person penalty for every unmasked face found in their home.

Shepard, however, insisted this was merely referring to visitors, noting that the order limited gatherings to fewer than 10 people. It also imposed an 11pm to 5am curfew.

The publication of the original order received national attention, and not of the positive kind.

Broward County would not be the first US municipality to suggest at-home mask wearing. The chief of Texas' Division of Emergency Management suggested earlier this month that people should cover their faces at home if they've been "out in public" without "decontaminating" – for instance, going to a party or holiday celebration.

However, the Texas official's recommendation was just that – a recommendation – and not an order with penalties attached.

A study published on Monday indicated growing anger related to the pandemic on social media, suggesting the initial fear and uncertainty about Covid-19 was giving way to rage as draconian measures to tackle the disease continue. 

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