FLORIDA — Contrary to what you may have read on social media, rules requiring people wear cloth face coverings in public buildings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are not in violation of Florida Statute.
This myth has been making the rounds on social media, based on Florida Statute 876.12, enacted in 1951, which states: “No person or persons over 16 years of age shall, while wearing any mask, hood, or device whereby any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, enter upon, or be or appear upon any lane, walk, alley, street, road, highway, or other public way in this state.”
However, another Florida Statute enacted about 30 years later clarifies this law. Florida Statute 876.155 specifically clarifies that the previous statutes only apply to people who are wearing masks: “With the intent to deprive any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws or for the purpose of preventing the constituted authorities of this state or any subdivision thereof from, or hindering them in, giving or securing to all persons within this state the equal protection of the laws;
“With the intent, by force or threat of force, to injure, intimidate, or interfere with any person because of the person’s exercise of any right secured by federal, state, or local law or to intimidate such person or any other person or any class of persons from exercising any right secured by federal, state, or local law;
“With the intent to intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass any other person; or
“While she or he was engaged in conduct that could reasonably lead to the institution of a civil or criminal proceeding against her or him, with the intent of avoiding identification in such a proceeding.”