Charlotte County on Tuesday will be the next local government in Florida to officially consider a face mask ordinance.
Coronavirus cases have quadrupled locally in recent weeks with no sign of abating.
“Neither the Constitution of the United States nor the State of Florida grant individuals the freedom to behave however they may please,” the ordinance states in its windup. “The Board of County Commissioners finds that the inconvenience caused by the requirement to use face coverings for the protection of others is minimal compared to the risk to the health, safety and welfare of the public.”
Four of five commissioners must approve a proposed face cover ordinance for it to pass, according to the ordinance.
At their last meeting on June 23, most of the commissioners were not willing to adopt an ordinance. They debated the topic at that time, when masks were not on the agenda. Without an official vote, Commissioner Chris Constance, a physician in favor of requiring masks, appeared to be outnumbered.
Most of the residents who attended that meeting, however, asked for an ordinance.
Since then, the Punta Gorda City Council voted unanimously to adopt a mask ordinance.
The Charlotte County commission meets 9 a.m. Tuesday at 18500 Murdock Circle.
The ordinance would require masks, or a plexiglass face shield, of all residents with some exceptions, while they are in an “Indoor Public Place.”
The ordinance defines indoor public space as publicly or privately owned with at least two walls, including a tent, but not including residences.
People at a restaurant would only take off the mask when they are eating. They would have to put it on while waiting for a table or using the restroom.
Enforcement would be by the sheriff’s office and/or code enforcement officers. Enforcers would have the option of issuing warnings, but the first offense citation would be for $25 followed by $100 and then $250 per offense.