Residents and visitors in Jacksonville, Fla., will be required to wear masks indoors and in public spaces to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the city announced today, potentially complicating President Trump’s desire to hold the Republican National Convention there in August without masks or social distancing.
The mandatory mask policy will take effect at 5 p.m. today, city officials said. It’s unclear how long it will remain in place.
“At 5 p.m. today, the City of Jacksonville will be adopting a mandatory mask requirement for public & indoor locations, and in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance,” the city tweeted. “Please continue to practice personal responsibility to help stop the spread of this virus.”
At 5 p.m. today, the City of Jacksonville will be adopting a mandatory mask requirement for public & indoor locations, and in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance.
Please continue to practice personal responsibility to help stop the spread of this virus. pic.twitter.com/dcAuolVMyZ
— City of Jacksonville (COJ) (@CityofJax) June 29, 2020
The GOP announced earlier this month that the main events surrounding this year’s convention, including Trump’s speech accepting the party’s nomination, would take place in Jacksonville.
The change in location followed squabbling with the governor of North Carolina over whether the massive gathering could take place in Charlotte, its originally planned location, without social distancing precautions.
Trump is scheduled to deliver his speech on Aug. 27 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds around 15,000 people.
Trump had demanded the Republican convention be allowed to move forward without restrictions on crowd size, and he opposed the idea of requiring masks or spacing out attendees.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) indicated he would not be able to commit to those terms given the uncertainty of the pandemic, and the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.
But Florida’s handling of the coronavirus has cast a cloud over the event. The state has seen record numbers of cases over the past several days as it struggles to get new outbreaks under control.
The state banned the on-site consumption of alcohol at bars in a reversal of some of its reopening measures in an attempt to contain the new cases.
This morning, more than 300 cars lined up for testing at the TIAA Bank Field, where the Jaguars play football.
About 5,800 total cases of coronavirus have been reported in Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, and 64 deaths.