BRADENTON, Fla. — If you want to enter any Manatee County business, you’ll need a mask. 

What You Need To Know

  • Manatee County requiring face coverings in all businesses, houses of worship and government buildings

  • Face coverings are not required outdoors, if social distancing is possible.

  • There are age and medical exemptions.

  • The mandate will be enforced with fines.

After more than five hours of discussion Monday, county commissioners voted 4-3 to approve a county-wide mask mandate. 

The county’s top health official, Dr. Jennifer Bencie, told commissioners that an estimated 48 percent of Manatee County residents who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 were asymptomatic. She also confirmed that Manatee County remains 11th in the state for highest number of COVID-19 cases. 

“Those counties that have more individuals than us but less cases include Pasco, Seminole, Brevard, and Volusia. Interestingly, these are the counties we compare ourselves to in public health due to similar demographics. What’s the main difference between us and them? Masks,” she told commissioners.

The mask mandate includes all indoor business establishments in Manatee County. As outlined in the emergency resolution, that includes restaurants, businesses, ride share cars, public buses, government buildings and places of worship. 

Those exempt from the mandatory mask mandate include children under six years old. People who have trouble breathing due to pre-existing conditions or who cannot have a face covering for a medical reason are also exempt. 

Face coverings are not required outdoors in places where people can maintain six feet or more of distance in between each other.

Under the resolution, every business is also required to display signs notifying customers that face coverings are required.  

If a customer refuses to wear a mask, they could be fined $50 for the first offense, $125 for the second offense, and $250 after that.

Any violation would be a noncriminal infraction.