Sheriff Billy Woods orders officers and staff not to wear face masks

Ocala City Council passed an emergency ordinance last week which mandate the people to wear masks inside businesses. But the ordinance was opposed on Monday by Mayor Kent Guinn. As the city of Ocala sets its order of wearing masks or covering the face in general, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods told his employees not to wear masks. He further ordered the visitors not to wear masks either in his office.

Sheriff Billy Woods passed his order through an email on August 11. The email stated:

“my order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn”

A single-day record has been set in Marion County on Tuesday for the most deaths related to COVID-19. (reported deaths:13) wearing masks so that the officers can communicate with the people easily where their

Marion County’s municipalities advised not wearing masks so that the officers can communicate with the people easily where their message is clear and understandable. However, there is no consistent approach statewide as Florida does not have statewide order.

Billy Wood made it clear to wear masks in the situations where there is suspicion of disease like in jail, in public schools, in hospitals, in the courthouse.

However, he made it very clear that the wearing of a mask is only for the above exceptions and officers who do special details will not be allowed to wear a mask on duty unless it is an exception like mentioned.

Billy Woods has said that if any employee is questioned for not wearing a mask, he should just say that he is not required to as per the order of Shariff and then from there Woods will deal with the situation. However, the conversation should be polite and decent.

OCALA, FL – APRIL 20: Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods speaks during a press conference after a shooting at Forest High School on April 20, 2018 in Ocala, Florida. It was reported that a former student shot a 17-year-old male student in the ankle. The shooter, whose name has not yet been released, is in custody. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Bill’s idea of this mask removal is to ensure good and clear communication.

Even though public health officials and others have highly emphasized the idea of wearing a mask as it is a basic barrier for COVID-19. Yet Shariff is rigid with his idea of not allowing the employees to wear a mask on duty. County Commissioner Carl Zalak supports his idea and showed his appreciation towards his idea and commended him for handling the situation well.

However, there are officials in favor and the ones who are not.


  • Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham said the department issues masks to officers but while on duty, he doesn’t expect them to wear masks.
  • Belleview Police Chief Terry Holland said officers on duty should not wear masks so the lines of communications are clear.
  • Chief Mike McQuaig of Dunnellon Police Department said he doesn’t require officers to wear a mask in their calls-for-service.
  • Both Holland and McQuaig said officers are given masks. McQuaig said if a store requires an off-duty officer to wear a mask, then it’s the officer’s decision on whether to wear one or not.

Not agreed:

  • City Councilor Matthew Wardell, who sponsored the city’s face mask ordinance, said he disagrees with his stance on the mask.

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