Publix, public schools to continue mask requirements in Florida, for now

Despite the sweeping executive order issued by Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday, masks will remain in place in many public spaces around Florida, including some school districtions and at least one major grocery chain. 

On Tuesday morning, Publix told FOX 13 it will not change its COVID-19 safety policies. Customers will still be required to mask up while shopping at Publix, at least for the time being. 

School districts will also likely continue to require masks through the end of the school year. 

Hillsborough County Superintendent Addison Davis said Tuesday morning that masks will continue to be required in Hillsborough schools, FOX 13's Aaron Mesmer reports.

Meanwhile, Pinellas County school eaders announced late Tuesday morning they will rescind their policy requiring face coverings starting June 9 at 5 p.m. That will be the last day of school for students for this school year.

According to Manatee County Schools, Florida’s Chancellor of Public Schools, Jacob Oliva, sent out a memo explaining that the governor’s executive orders issued yesterday will not apply to the current school year. 

Many districts had already announced they would do away with mask requirements in the fall, anyway.

Lynn Grady, Hillsborough County School District’s chair, said she wished the governor’s office would’ve issued more clarification for schools following the surprise announcement to clear up any confusion.

"The children become confused, and the parents become confused," she said, "and it doesn’t really serve for a good routine system."

For now, at least, unless an individual district announces otherwise, masks need to be worn while at school. 

PREVIOUS: Gov. DeSantis signs bill banning vaccine passports; suspends COVID-19 local emergency orders

On Monday, DeSantis issued the  executive order suspending all local COVID-19 emergency orders, but it only applied to local governments. He said during his announcement from St. Petersburg that safety procedures can still be decided by businesses.

Under a new law that takes effect July 1, all future emergency orders must be narrowly tailored in seven-day increments with a limit of 42 days or less. The governor also banned vaccine passports, adding that it’s time to loosen year-long restrictions.

"My message is the vaccines protect you, get vaccinated and then live your life as if you're protected," he said Monday.

However, not everyone agreed with some of the changes.

"We are not even 50% vaccination in Pinellas County yet let alone the rest of the state," said Rick Kriseman, mayor of St. Pete. "If that’s the case, then why isn’t the CDC saying no more masks? I trust the CDC before Gov. Desantis."  

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor echoed Kriseman. "The best decisions are made by local authorities, who are closest to the unique health and welfare needs of our communities. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines -- and encourage all of our residents to get vaccinated -- so that we can safely return to a sense of normalcy."  

The order doesn’t just apply to mask mandates. Many restaurants and bars have been operating under other restrictions as well. In Tampa, for example, patrons weren’t allowed to gather inside a bar or walk up to the actual bar to order a drink. Customers were supposed to stay seated.

Now, it’s up to individual bars and restaurants whether they want to keep those rules in place.