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According to a new survey, eight in 10 Floridians say it's either "very" or "somewhat" important to don a mask while visiting a restaurant, numbers that are released at a time of heated debate over whether cities and states should require people to wear masks when in public.

The City of Sarasota on Monday joined the Anna Maria Island towns of Holmes Beach and Anna Maria in creating new rules requiring people to wear masks in public spaces when social distancing is not possible. Other local governments have encouraged people to wear masks, but have not mandated it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people should wear masks because the practice "may slow the spread of the virus." The Florida Department of Health advises that "you could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick" and that a mask helps "protect other people in case you are infected."

Locally, the new regulations exempt restaurant customers from having to wear a mask while seated at a table and eating or drinking. For its new survey, 1Q, a digital research firm, tracked responses from 500 people in Florida. According to their analysis, 54.4 percent of Floridians think it's "very" important to wear a mask in a restaurant; another 26.8 percent think it's "somewhat" important. Forty percent of respondents said they "always" wear a mask when outside the home. Another 31 percent said they wear one unless they are not around others.

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