By Karen Holme & Chris Nelson. March 26, 2021.
Palm Beach County has stopped fining and closing businesses due to Covid violations an official document reveals. According to the document obtained through a public records request, the County has not closed a single business or collected any fines since August 30 of 2020 when Asian Sunshine Spa was closed for an alleged violation. This crushes the narrative that businesses will be closed or fined if they do not force masks on their customers.
According to the Palm Beach County Official Covid Snitch Line spreadsheet (View Below), Code Enforcement acknowledges Governor DeSantis suspended fines and penalties on businesses related to Covid-19 restrictions per Order 2020-244. The order is repeatedly sited as the reason a business was not fined or shut down with comments reading, “Order 2020-244 suspends all outstanding fines and penalties, and the collection of such moving forward, applied against individuals and business as it relates to COVID-19 mask use and physical distancing” and “Not currently issuing mask fines due to State EO 244.” The spread sheet is filled with thousands of complaints ranging from people not having masks over their noses, to complaints over 30 people being in attendance at a wedding to more sinister complaints that name specific individuals who tested positive for the fake virus. Despite the fact that they are no longer issuing fines, the County continues to publicly threaten all businesses with the idea that they will be fined if not compliant with the face mask and social distancing mandates. Deputy County Administrator, Jon Van Arnam, told the public on September 28, 2020 that “We can still enforce [the mandate] on businesses.” https://floridapolitics.com/archives/370185-palm-beach-businesses-fined-mask-mandates. Commissioner Melissa McKinlay on February 19, 2021 told the public via video that “…it [the Governor’s mandate] does not prevent us from enforcing this mask mandate on the owners of the businesses where these violations are taking place.” https://www.wptv.com/coronavir…-crowd-in-west-palm-beach. Local government official websites continue to spew these toothless threats as well. https://www.myboca.us/1834/COVID-19-City-Updates (See the update given on September 30, 2020.)
Despite the County officials’ public announcements of their authority to fine businesses, it is very clear by their document that they have not been permitted by the Governor’s orders to enforce the mandate on businesses since September 25, 2020.
A Little More Detail:
Not only does the documentation reveal that the Compliance Team has been quietly following the Governor’s order since September 25, 2020, but strangely, the Team uses Order 2020-244 as a closing comment on cases that were made in July, two months prior to the Governor’s Order. Similarly, the reason of the county being in “Phase 3” was used hundreds of times when closing cases that occurred well before the actual date of Phase 3 which was also September 25, 2020. The record does not provide an explanation as to why some businesses were afforded their case being closed, up to two months prior to the actual date of the Governor’s Order, while other businesses were fined. Governor DeSantis added Executive Order 21-65 on March 10, 2021 that cancels all fines on businesses related to the fake virus.
The Compliance Team responded to a complaint about a Jewish Center not wearing masks by citing, “Mask use cannot be enforced in religious centers, worship centers, or spaces reserved for the practice of religion.” (See line item 8176) While many religious centers in the county believe that the mandate applies to all indoor places in Palm Beach County, it is apparent by the County documentation that it does not.
View the entire Palm Beach Covid Snitch Line Report Here. It is a great place to find businesses that do not require masks: https://drive.google.com/file/…AVGaH19/view?usp=drivesdk
A Brief Timeline:
Palm Beach County imposed a mandate to wear facial coverings on June 24, 2020. (https://discover.pbcgov.org/PDF/COVID19/PBC-EO-12.pdf)
On August 7, 2020 Palm Beach County officials added penalties for violation of the County’s Code of Ordinances, Emergency Order EO-17 (https://discover.pbcgov.org/PDF/COVID19/PBC-EO-17.pdf)
On September 25, 2020 Governor DeSantis suspended the collection of fines and penalties associated with Covid-19 enforced upon individuals and also moved the State to Phase 3, Emergency Order 2020-244 (https://www.flgov.com/wp-conte…orders/2020/EO_20-244.pdf)
On March 11, 2021 Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 21-65 that cancels all fines on businesses related to the fake virus. (https://www.flgov.com/wp-conte…/orders/2021/EO_21-65.pdf)