Q&A – Is Wearing A Mask In Public Illegal In Florida?

Today’s entry: I guess a lot of us are breaking the law. https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2020/876.12

Bottom Line: Kudos to this listener for a solid pull of a Florida law that indicates wearing masks in Florida is illegal. No kidding. The law he identified is 876.12 Wearing mask, hood, or other device on public way.

No person or persons over 16 years of age shall while wearing any mask, hood, or device whereby any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, enter upon, or be or appear upon any lane, walk, alley, street, road, highway, or other public way in this state.

So yes, anyone 16 and older on public property wearing a mask is breaking the law in Florida. Now, the purpose of this law is vastly different than the purpose of wearing masks most recently. It’s under the chapter of Florida law governing criminal behavior and mask orders have of course been based on a declared public health emergency. And that public health emergency is key in describing why this law hasn’t been applied for over a year. Here’s a quick refresh on what happens during a declared state of emergency: 252.36 Emergency management powers of the Governor.

Just as has been the case with other legal questions regarding policy mandated by the state and local authorities during the pandemic, once a state of emergency is declared it supersedes all other laws, and executive action, as described in the statute, is the law. Governor DeSantis through his emergency declaration has granted local governments the ability to issue mask mandates due to the state of emergency but not to enforce them with penalties. Thus, that’s the law that retains supremacy until the emergency declaration ends. Though to your point, the day the emergency declaration does finally end, it will be illegal once again in Florida unless that law is changed. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 


Parler & Twitter:@brianmuddradio 

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