COLLIER COUNTY — Collier County is now the latest locality in southwest Florida to require masks inside businesses.
The decision came one week after commissioners voted against the mask mandate, but one board member, Penny Taylor, says she changed her mind.
Hundreds of people signed up to comment on Tuesday, both in favor and against the mandate, but Commissioner Taylor said, it’s not public opinion that changed her mind. It was the numbers.
“A mask is important, and I’m convinced of that now," said Taylor.
The county’s rate of new COVID-19 cases is still over 15% right now, and Taylor says that’s just too high.
“Our rate is higher than Palm Beach. Our rate is higher than Broward, and we were worried about them. They’re going to be worried about us coming over, come on," said Taylor.
Many people who showed up to speak agreed with Taylor.
“We get infected, what happens? We go to a shutdown, and businesses and schools are impacted. Why can’t we do a temporary mandate to get us through this dilemma?” said Charles Blum.
But after the decision was made final, many people voiced their outrage. We caught up with several people who oppose the mandate to find out why.
“The biggest concern that we have is that it’s the beginning. It’s the start of something. If they pass this, you don’t know what is going to happen next," said Jonathan Gallinari.
“The government has no business overreaching and mandating what a human being has to do or not do with regard to their body, their health," said Drew Clark.
But Taylor says she feels, in the middle of a pandemic, requiring masks is not an overreach.
The mandate only applies to unincorporated areas of Collier County, meaning that the mandate will not go into effect in Naples or Marco Island unless the city councils vote to opt-in. The mandate requires people to wear masks in businesses until September 3rd, and it puts the responsibility on those businesses to enforce it, or they’ll face a fine of up to $500. Churches and religious institutions were left out of the mandate, and kids under 9-years-old won’t be required to wear a mask.