On Friday afternoon, Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary released a video statement on the City of Winter Park Emergency Info Facebook page explaining that Winter Park will be abiding by the new mandate requiring anyone in Orange County to wear a face covering while in public. The mandate, Executive Order 2020-23, was announced earlier this week by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and will take effect beginning June 20, 2020.
“I understand some may be upset by this,” said Leary. “However, the executive order is dictating common sense, requiring that we all do what we should be doing through this time anyway.”
The executive order is a response to recent spikes in COVID-19 cases throughout Orange County in recent days. “This week we have seen the highest increase of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March,” Leary said. “In Orange County alone, recently the number of COVID cases has increased significantly with daily positivity rates as high as 11% when two weeks ago it was 2.8%. Winter Park is not immune to this trajectory as we are also seeing an increase in COVID cases.”
The order will apply to everyone who lives in, works in, or visits Winter Park and businesses are encouraged to prohibit patrons not abiding by the order from entering. According to the order and CDC guidelines, a face covering is defined as a piece of material that securely covers one’s mouth and nose without having to be held in place by hand. There are certain exceptions to the order such as when exercising as long as social distancing is practiced or if the covering prevents a patron from engaging in a service, such as eating. A list of exceptions can be found on the City of Winter Park’s website on its emergency page.
Officials are holding out hope that implementing this order will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the possibility of a second stay-at-home order. “As your mayor and a small business owner myself I know a second stay-at-home order would have a drastic impact on many of our local retailers that are already hurting,” Leary said. “By instituting a few commonsense steps, we are hopeful that we can see some relief from the current COVID spike.”
Leary also explained that Winter Park residents can expect adjustments to be made to the phases of reopening as the situation with COVID-19 continues to change.
“In unprecedented times, one of the few things that you can count on is change,” Leary said. “Modifications to our phase reopening implementation are to be expected as we continue to secure new information. In Winter Park, our focus is on a conservative path forward to minimize the prospect of a backslide and more drastic measures, such as a second stay-at-home directive.”