BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
DELRAY BEACH, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia never intended to create a firestorm when the City issued this email on May 8th, 2020:
“in keeping with the order issued April 29, 2020 by Governor Ron DeSantis, the City of Delray Beach will end its stay at home order and curfew, and will no longer mandate the use of facial coverings, effective immediately.”
The City had previously issued a restrictive “facial covering” order. When Governor Ron DeSantis approved Palm Beach County’s move to “Phase One” reopening, the City ended the restrictive order — bringing it into sync with the rest of Palm Beach County which had its own order in place.
That’s when the confusion started.
“It’s always difficult to chase a story that’s taken on a life of its own,” she said to BocaNewsNow.com.
The email approved by City Manager George Grestas — which Petrolia concedes was “confusing” — suggested that facial coverings were no longer required in Delray Beach.
That’s not the case.
It also said that Governor DeSantis stated that facial coverings aren’t required as a part of Phase One.
We have found no record of DeSantis making that comment.
The email’s intent, according to Mayor Petrolia, was simply to bring Delray Beach into sync with the rest of Palm Beach County — and this Palm Beach County order:
“All persons working in, patronizing, or otherwise physically present in grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, construction sites, public transit vehicles, vehicles for hire, and locations where social distancing measures are not possible should wear facial coverings as defined by the CDC.”
Delray never intended to suggest that facial coverings weren’t required in the City — just that its restrictive language would give way to Palm Beach County’s slightly more laid back language.
Note that Palm Beach County — while calling it a “directive,” uses words like “should” and not “must.”
Petrolia is quick to point out that the City of Delray Beach wants people to adhere to CDC guidelines as well.
In the confusing world of State vs. County vs. City vs. Town executive orders, the Delray Beach email confused even those who thought they were experts. The prevailing thought — throughout this crisis — has been that the most restrictive order is the order in effect. If the State of Florida, for example, says that stores must close at 7:30 p.m., and Delray Beach says 8 p.m., the State order would be the order to follow. That’s why neither Delray Beach nor Boca Raton can open beaches right now — Palm Beach County says “no” and is the most restrictive order in effect.
On the issue of facial covering, Petrolia says Delray’s messaging — while well intentioned — was a bit off.
“The posted notice,” said Petrolia, “while confusing, lifted a more restrictive “mandate” imposed by City of Delray Beach, coming in line with the CDC, County and every other municipality in Palm Beach County.
When City Manager Gretsas asked the County Health Director, Dr. Alina Alonzo, if the City’s mandate would be enforceable after a soft business opening (Phase 1), she replied, “it would be unsustainable”.
“That information,” she adds, “coupled with data on whether our more restrictive facial covering mandate made any significant difference in numbers of COVID-19 cases or deaths (there we’re none) caused the City to back off of “requiring” masks and instead, be in agreement with the CDC, County and all other municipalities in the County.”
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