Miami will begin issuing fines of up to $500 for not wearing a mask in public

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  • Miami is imposing a fine for refusing to wear a face-covering in public. Repeat offenders could have to pay up to $500.
  • “The only way to ensure compliance in some way shape or form is you have to have a heavy hand,” City Manager Art Noriega said Thursday.
  • The penalty is supported by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Republican.
  • “This isn’t about politics,” Suarez tweeted before the vote, “this is about keeping people safe and healthy.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The city of Miami will begin fining repeat offenders up to $500 for not wearing a mask in public, citing the surge in COVID-19 cases across the state of Florida.

A first offense could net a fine of $50; a second, $150. Those who persist in refusing to wear a face-covering could be arrested, as a last resort.

“The only way to ensure compliance in some way shape or form is you have to have a heavy hand,” City Manager Art Noriega said Thursday.

Still, those who refuse to pay their fines will not have to face the wrath of any collection agency, the paper noted, and the emphasis will purportedly be on education, not enforcement.

“With the number of COVID-19 cases in our community growing, every single Miamian must step up and do their part to reverse this surge by wearing face coverings whenever they’re in public spaces,” Noriega said.

As Business Insider has reported, the science is pretty much settled: masks work, with recent studies finding they can dramatically limit the spread of the coronavirus, with infected individuals who wear a face-covering far less likely to give the virus to others.

Though the wearing of masks has become a partisan issue in some locations — opposition largely driven by a misunderstanding of the science — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Republican who tested positive for COVID-19 in early March, is a believer. Earlier in the week, he called on city commissioners to impose a penalty for not wearing a face covering. Suarez, a Republican, had himself mandated their use.

“This isn’t about politics,” Suarez tweeted before the vote, “this is about keeping people safe and healthy.”

—Mayor Francis Suarez (@FrancisSuarez) June 25, 2020

On Thursday, commissioners responded to the mayor’s call — and, after considering a $250 fine, doubled the financial consequences he proposed.

First-time offenders will get off with a warning. Exceptions to the policy include children under 2, people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask, and those engaged in exercise while maintaining proper social distance.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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