SANIBEL — Public parking won’t be allowed on Sanibel for the holiday weekend, and if you want to go shopping on the island, you’ll have to bring a mask starting on Friday.
City Council just passed two new ordinances Tuesday morning in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Vice Mayor Mick Denham said, people just weren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. So now, council is making them.
“I’m finding, in my daily life in and around Sanibel, the people just not observing wearing masks as an important issue," said Denham.
So now, council is making them mandatory. Starting on Friday, you could get a $50 fine if you refuse to wear a mask in a store. We asked some shoppers at the Periwinkle Place Shops for their reaction.
“I do think that, if you are a carrier of the COVID that it can protect other people, so I will wear it, but it is annoying," said Holly Weikert, who was visiting Sanibel from Ohio.
“I’m ok with wearing a mask if it allows the owners to keep their businesses open. I don’t want to see any businesses shut down, because I think that’s worse for our economy," said Suzy Ferguson, who was visiting Sanibel from Bradenton.
The economy was also on the mind of Chamber of Commerce President, John Lai.
“What we cannot afford as a business community is another shutdown. So if it means that we have to make some sacrifices like wearing masks, like sacrificing beach parking on the 4th of July weekend, like not having a parade on 4th of July or fireworks, we understand that that is prudent in this current environment," said Lai.
One Council member, Jason Maughan, voted against the new measures. Denham said, he understands not everyone is going to agree, but he feels the new rules will protect the people who live on Sanibel Island.
“We right now have a health crisis, and I’ll say it again. It’s a health crisis. We are going through unprecedented times, and therefore, I think we need to take measures that I wouldn’t dream of making if it wasn’t for this health crisis we’re facing," said Denham.
The ban on visitor parking is just for this weekend, while the mask ordinance will be in place until September 7th.