As of Sunday, more than 5,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Alachua County, according to the Florida Department of Health. So, here’s a guide to wearing a mask in the county and at UF to minimize the spread of the virus.
What is UF saying?
All students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear face masks everywhere on campus, according to UF guidelines. Exceptions include in private offices, private workspaces with adequate physical barriers, work areas away from others and in well-ventilated outdoor areas where people are at least six feet apart.
What if I live or eat on campus?
Students who live or dine on campus must wear face coverings at dining facilities and at UF residence halls when in common areas, hallways and outside of rooms. At student recreation and fitness centers, gym-goers are also expected to wear face masks and maintain social distance.
Looking to meet up with your study group? The rules have changed.
UF libraries require study buddies to wear face coverings during the entire duration of their stay and follow the already set social-distanced seatings and workstations. People are not allowed to eat or drink in the buildings except for bottled water and water fountains.
UF libraries’ capacity is limited. Students are encouraged to check the library's occupancy status site before their arrival. Additionally, group study rooms in all of the libraries will be closed throughout the Fall.
What about Alachua County regulations?
People visiting supermarkets, restaurants, pharmacies and other locations where social distancing is not possible, should wear face masks that cover their mouth and nose orifices, according to the Alachua County COVID-19 Community Resource Portal.
What about restaurants?
At all bars and restaurants, staff must wear facial coverings during all in-person interactions with the public. They are allowed to operate at 50% occupancy and social distancing is still required.
All customers must wear facial coverings, including when visiting the restroom. The only exception is while actively consuming food and beverages.
Are there any exceptions?
Alachua County exempts children under 6-years-old from wearing face masks.
People who have trouble breathing due to a chronic pre-existing condition or individuals with a documented or demonstrable medical problem are also exempt from wearing a mask or face covering indoors.
Can I visit Alachua County libraries?
Libraries only have curbside service available from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday at all locations. Classes, programs and any other kind of events have been suspended.
One-hour computer appointments and 15-minute copier appointments are available Monday through Saturday at all Alachua County libraries. Visitors must schedule an appointment, complete a health screening at their arrival, wear a face covering and practice social distancing.
How are buses running?
The Alligator previously reported that RTS buses will be carrying a maximum of 20 passengers instead of 60 passengers. Bus drivers, maintenance workers and passengers are required to wear a mask while on board UF public transport vehicles, including RTS buses and SNAP vans, according to Scott Fox, the senior director of UF Transportation and Parking Services.
What happens if I don’t wear a mask?
With the GATORSAFE app, anyone in the Gainesville community can report people on campus not wearing masks or not social distancing. People can do it anonymously or provide their name and UF will go to the violators and educate them on the matter.
If students continue failing to follow UF COVID-19 guidance, their violations can result in loss of privileges, expulsion or suspension. UF spokesperson Steve Orlando told The Alligator UF will handle violations on a case-by-case basis.
At Alachua County and UF libraries, people who choose not to follow the guidelines will be asked to leave.
Alachua County can fine residents anywhere from $125 to $500 for violating the order to wear face masks, depending on if the person is a repeat offender.
Where can I get a face mask?
Alachua County says there is no need to buy face masks. The COVID-19 Community Resource Portal says there are YouTube videos on how to make them from materials that can be found at home such as scarves, bandanas or T-shirts.
UF is providing “Gator Care Kits” to all students, which include two washable and reusable UF face masks. Students can pick up their kits at different locations on campus, including GatorWell at the Reitz Union, Newell Hall and Southwest Recreation Center. Kits are available until Oct. 2.
Disposable masks are also sold for $1.50 each in more than 50 vending machines located across campus. Students who use their Gator 1 Card to purchase will receive a $0.50 discount.
Francesca DeVito, a UF biomedical engineering senior, designed and created “gator mouth” face masks. Masks can be purchased on RedBubble for $12 each and all profits will be donated to Generational Relief in Prosthetics (GRiP), a UF student organization that designs 3-D assistive devices and adaptive technology for people with upper-limb differences, DeVito said.
How do I put on, remove and clean face masks?
According to the CDC, you should wash your hands before putting a mask on. To remove, wash your hands before and after touching the used mask. Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not reuse single-use masks. Reusable/washable masks should be washed as regular laundry after each use.