City Considers Slight Rule Change for Masks at Banks

Masked women in bank or office

Bank employees will be able to ask customers to briefly remove their face masks to identify themselves, under an exception to Lakeland’s mask rules that will be considered by city commissioners on Monday.

The provision follows coronavirus guidelines recommended by the American Bankers Association, City Attorney Palmer Davis told commissioners today at an agenda-study meeting.

Davis said that local bank executives he talked with support the narrow exemption since they are looking for a way to verify customers’ identities. They are not looking for a broad exemption to Lakeland’s rule requiring the wearing of face coverings inside businesses where social distancing isn’t possible, he said.

Here’s the language that would be added to the city’s mask resolution, if passed by the City Commission at its 3 p.m. meeting Monday:

Persons requested by an authorized representative of a bank, credit union or
other financial institution to remove their face covering so that the bank, credit union or other financial institution may verify the person’s identity or otherwise ensure the security of the facility. Persons requested to remove a face covering pursuant to this paragraph shall reaffix the face covering in accordance with this resolution upon completion of the identity check or security precautions performed by the bank, credit union or financial institution.

Commissioner Scott Franklin, who requested the bank exemption, said the language satisfies the need for financial institutions to be able to identify customers.

Commissioners on Sept. 8 extended the city’s mask rules for a third month. The current resolution expires Oct. 5, and commissioners will decide that day whether to extend it again.

At the Sept. 8 meeting, commissioners began discussing the conditions that would let them feel comfortable ending the mask requirement. Mayor Bill Mutz said his goal is to have 14 days when Polk County’s rate for COVID-19 tests that come back positive is under 5%.

Commissioner Sara Roberts McCarley endorsed that goal; no other commissioners specified whether they agreed or disagreed with it.

At today’s meeting, Mutz noted that Polk County’s positivity testing rate has been under 5% for the last two days.

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