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Jacksonville to now require face masks just two months before GOP convention

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Jacksonville, FL officials announced on Monday that the city would adopt a face mask requirement for public and indoor locations where social distancing is not possible. The news comes less than two months before President Donald Trump is set to accept the Republican nomination in the city.

“At 5 p.m. today, the City of Jacksonville will be adopting a mandatory mask requirement for public & indoor locations, and in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance. Please continue to practice personal responsibility to help stop the spread of this virus,” the city tweeted.

Trump and the RNC just recently moved the GOP convention to Jacksonville after they were unable to reach an agreement with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) regarding acceptable crowd size. Trump had insisted that Cooper allow a full convention center with no masks or social distancing.

When Cooper expressed concern and suggested a scaled-back event, Trump instructed the RNC to find a new venue. The party has now booked VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, which holds 15,000 people.

“The RNC is committed to holding a safe convention that fully complies with local health regulations in place at the time,” The RNC said in a statement. “The event is still two months away, and we are planning to offer health precautions including but not limited to temperature checks, available PPE, aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available Covid-19 testing. We have a great working relationship with local leadership in Jacksonville and the state of Florida, and we will continue to coordinate with them in the months ahead.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says that Trump, who has not personally worn a mask in public, told her he has issue with masks.

“It’s the personal choice of any individual as to whether to wear a mask or not,” McEnany said. “He encourages people to make whatever decision is best for their safety, but he did say to me he has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you.”

Trump did not require attendees of his recent Tulsa event to wear masks and very few in the crowd were doing so.

Jacksonville’s move to require masks comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are spiking in Florida. Several of the state’s beaches will also now be closed for the Independence Day holiday to help keep cases from spreading.

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