Winter Garden institutes mask mandate for city employees in city buildings
Monday, January 3, 2022
Gov. Ron DeSantis stripped municipalities of their abilities to protect citizens from public health threats, but local leaders like Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Winter Garden City Manager Jon Williams found work-arounds.
Winter Garden’s city employees came back from the New Year’s holiday to a new mask mandate. Effective Monday, they are required to mask up while inside city buildings, according to City Manager Jon Williams.
Williams is following the example set by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings who reinstated a mask mandate Dec. 28 for county employees working in county buildings.
“These procedures do not apply to non-city employees,” Williams told VoxPopuli in an email. “However, we will have appropriate signage encouraging/recommending the use of face coverings.”
“I am very pleased that we continue to put the safety of all our city staff as a top priority,” said City Commissioner Ron Mueller, who representts District 2, adding that he’d like to see anyone entering a city building wearing a mask. Mueller would also like to see virtual city commission meetings resume until the current Covid-19 surge has passed to allow residents to participate in meetings without the threat of infection.
Winter Garden’s new edict comes in response to the recent Omicron surge, Williams said. Omicron is now the dominant virus in the county, according to a press release from Orange County Utilities, which samples waste water to check for virus particles.
Between Christmas Eve and Dec. 30, the county recorded 21,000 new cases with a positivity rate reaching 31.6 percent, up from 14 percent, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Wearing masks, social distancing and vaccinations/booster shots remain the best protections against coronavirus, health experts maintain.