TAMPA, Fla. — More Bay area counties and cities are now requiring people to wear masks.
There are some changes to the controversial mandate in Hillsborough County, where the Emergency Policy Group passed a measure last week requiring masks in public places.
On Monday, the EPG extended the measure for another week.
Hillsborough County Health Director Doug Holt said last week that wearing masks is the best measure to reduce the huge surge of COVID infections.
Still, the measure is the focus of at least two lawsuits right now.
The EPG did make some adjustments to the mask ordinance which impact children and non-profits.
Customers and employees of non-profits which supply goods and services in indoor settings will now be required to wear masks if they can't socially distance.
Children under the age of 8 now don't have to wear masks inside businesses. That's a change from 2 years old and younger.
And children and teens under the age of 18 will not have to wear masks if they are participating in sports, summer camps or childcare programs.
The EPG also has asked the county attorney for guidance on enforcement.
As the ordinance stands - business owners are responsible for enforcing the mask mandate and can be fined and or jailed for up to 60 days if their customers don't comply.
One of the two lawsuits filed against the ordinance argues it’s illegal.
The EPG asked the county attorney for ideas to shift some of the responsibility of wearing a mask to customers.
There was no word Monday on when or if that portion of the ordinance will change. The EPG’s next meeting is Thursday.
Meanwhile, the city of Sarasota's mask mandate starts at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
Face coverings are not required when social distancing cannot be maintained indoors and outdoors.
The city has some exemptions, including:
For children under 18, people who are exercising and socially distant, and while eating and drinking
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