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A Florida sheriff said his deputies and visitors to the office will not be allowed to wear masks.

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said in an email to staff that he had weighed both sides of the issue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now, I can already hear the whining and, just so you know, I did not make this decision easily and I have weighed it out for the past two weeks,” he said in the message earlier this week.

“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t.”

In July, the federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention asked Americans to wear masks to avoid spreading the virus. 

Florida has recorded 550,000 cases of coronavirus and 8,898 deaths.

Marion County Sheriff Woods said exceptions to his mask prohibition will be made for deputies at jails, schools, courthouses, hospitals, nursing homes and when dealing with someone who is elderly or has Covid.

In these situations, the mask should be removed when giving orders or commands to comply, the sheriff said.

At the sheriff’s office, masks will not be allowed so that visitors can be easily identified and there is clear communication, he said.