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Punta Gorda mask mandate not enforced

Posted at 7:19 PM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 19:30:59-05

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — 2020 has been a hard year for most. One Southwest Florida woman who was laid off six months ago says she finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel when she got hired at Fisherman’s Village business in Punta Gorda this week. Despite the city’s mask mandate, her husband said her job wasn’t pushing it.

“As they were signing it, they said, but don’t worry, we’re not going to be enforcing it. You know, you don’t have to tell your customers to wear them. You don’t have to wear them,” he said.

That’s bad news for him since he and his wife have underlying health conditions, and they have a toddler to protect. The woman and her husband want to remain anonymous, out of fear of losing her job.

Management at Fisherman's Village sent Fox 4 the following statement:

"The City of Punta Gorda extended their face mask ordinance and we at Fishermen's Village continue to follow all of these guidelines. All stores require masks as it is required by the City of Punta Gorda."

The city’s spokesperson Melissa Reichert said city council extended their mask mandate until April, but there’s no consequences.

“The governor’s mandate does not allow for actual penalties to be enforced right now,” said Reichert.

Instead, Punta Gorda officials and law enforcement are educating businesses. That dad says the city should take it a step further.

“I think people are already educated. You know, I think people know what a mask does. You know, what it stops. What it could prevent,” he said.

He said he reached out to Punta Gorda Police Department to hold his wife’s job accountable, but their hands were tied. Reichert says the best they can do is have a conversation.

“Certainly talk with the manager, owner of the business and express her concerns. Give us a call. Like I said, we’re happy to have our police department come out and do some education,” she said.

But he says that’s just not enough.

“I feel like they’re trying to make everybody happy, and it’s going to risk people’s lives trying to make people happy,” he said.

The couple says the city should considering fining businesses who do not enforce the mandate. For now, the city says they’ll stick to posting signs and education.