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Charlotte County votes not to mandate masks

Posted at 2:41 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 23:01:12-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Charlotte County Commissioners have voted against a countywide emergency ordinance requiring the use of masks.

Tuesday's decision comes just a week after the City of Punta Gorda voted unanimously to implement a mask mandate in the city.

After more than three hours of public comments, commissioners voted 3-2 against the mask mandate.

"I'm scared, I don't want to die just because government on all levels won't take enough action to stop this virus," said a community member in favor of the mandate.

That emergency ordinance would have required people to wear masks in businesses and other public settings for the next 90 days, with exceptions.

"I should not have to feel that I have to justify myself [as] to why I'm not wearing a mask, additional I've had people throw items at me and yell put your mask on, I've had people spit at me," said another community members against the mandate.

But others say their reason to push for a mask mandate is to prevent other people from losing loved ones.

"My husband passed away from the virus two months ago, almost three months ago," said Clarie Rea of Port Charlotte.

Rea was at Tuesday's meeting, asking commissioners to implement the ordinance.

"Nobody can feel what I'm feeling unless they been through it, but I do think people need to be responsible," said Rea.

Commissioner Ken Doughtery voiced concerns over how the ordinance was written.

"It's going to provide a false sense of security to some people that think oh boy they got a mandate now and folks will get cited if they don't wear a mask; that's not going to be the case," said Commissioner Doherty.

A big concern was how would the mask ordinance be enforced.

"We don't have to police force in place that they have time to really go out and do that, we don't have enough code enforcement people," said Chairman Bill Truex.

RELATED: THREE SWFL MUNICIPALITIES TO CONSIDER MASK MANDATES TUESDAY

Commissioners will be discussing a possible resolution that would encourage businesses to set their own mask requirements for employees and employees during their next board meeting.