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Governor DeSantis’ executive order brings confusion on COVID-19 guidelines

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. — At Bassano Cheesecake in Safety Harbor, they’ve been doing what they can to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

“We just want to make people comfortable. We have no optical aspirations or thoughts. Or anything behind what we do,” said owner Tom Bassano.

Bassano says even though businesses still have the right to keep precautions in place, he will likely take the signs down that require customers to wear masks.

The move comes after Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order blocking local governments from enforcing COVID-19 mandates.

But Bassano says he does plan on keeping staff in masks for the time being. He would also like people to remain socially distant.

“I don’t want people up against each other and shoulder to shoulder in line. It would be nice if people politely maintained that distance between each other,” Bassano said.

The governor’s order left many unsure of where they stand, including local school districts.

But that has now been clarified.

State officials say schools are not affected by the governor’s executive order.

“We were trying to scramble around last night. I called the chancellor at the Florida Department of Education, and I said, ‘can you give us some guidance,’ and he was already working on it,” said Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning.

Pasco County Schools announced last week they would require masks for the rest of the school year, which some parents are strongly against.

“At this point, it’s pretty ridiculous when you have the governor telling you that our children should not be masked. It’s the end of the year. These kids have suffered enough,” said parent Janine Dombrowski.

“We’ve got 17 days left. 17 days. These kids have been in school for 160, 170 days with masks, and we just want to get across that finish line.”

The CDC’s latest guidelines still recommend mask-wearing in schools as well as social distancing of at least three feet.

Meanwhile, government agencies have also had questions too.

Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano tweeted Tuesday morning, wondering if he is required to lift face mask requirements in his busy offices.

He has since talked with attorneys and says the face mask requirement is a policy, not an order. But they do have a system in place for those who do not want to wear masks.

No matter what people decide, it seems there is no perfect solution.

“If you allow or enforce people to wear masks, you are one side of the political spectrum. If you say, ‘hey come on here without a mask,’ then you are on the other end,” said Bassano.

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