(CBS News) - Walking outside your home without a mask could become expensive in Miami, which on Thursday ushered in a new ordinance that can fine people up to $500 for failing to cover their mouth and nose while in public.
People without masks in public will first be issued a verbal warning, while a city worker will provide them with a free mask, the city said on its website. The next offense carries a $50 fine, while a third offense costs $150. A fourth offense will carry a fine of $500 — and a promise to appear in court, according to the Miami Herald, which noted that the city won't send unpaid fines to collection agencies.
The fines are necessary because only a “heavy hand” can ensure compliance with the law, Miami city manager Art Noriega told the Miami Herald.
Miami isn't the first city to mandate public masks, with Scottsdale, Arizona — located in another state witnessing spikes in coronavirus cases — earlier this month requiring its residents to wear masks while outside their homes.
But the Miami decision highlights the split between local lawmakers, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, so far opting against a statewide mask law. DeSantis earlier this week said his reason for not implementing a mask law is that "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar," according to a local TV report.
The new mask laws come as the number of coronavirus cases hit an all-time high of 40,000 Friday, with outbreaks in several Southern and Western states sparking the increase, such as Texas, Arizona and Florida. Florida alone was responsible for almost 1 in 4 of the new cases, with its Department of Health reporting almost 9,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
“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 in a statement.
On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas put off lifting any more restrictions and reinstated a ban on elective surgeries in some places to keep hospital space open for the growing caseloads of COVID-19 patients.
Florida, meanwhile, has banned the on-premise consumption of alcohol in bars, although the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation didn't specify its reason.