No mandate on face coverings approved in Manatee County, advisory put out supporting state guidelines

Debate on a Potential Mask Order

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -Commissioners agreed to put out a public health advisory to say Floridians should wear face coverings in situations where social distancing isn’t possible.

"Other counties are finding ways to not only articulate that message but make sure that it's addressed out in the community. And we cannot move in that direction?? said Commissioner Reggie Bellamy.

A motion to release a statement backing the Florida Surgeon General’s message on social distancing and masks was agreed on.

“We’re going to make sure we blast it out. And I respect that and that should go out but we need to do something different,” said Bellamy.

Commissioners spent nearly two hours on the topic on Wednesday morning.

A motion was presented early on by commissioner Misty Servia to prepare an ordinance to require masks inside businesses where social distancing wasn’t possible. That motion did not pass.

“You come in this morning and all of a sudden you want to all of a sudden mandate. And that’s not given the citizens an opportunity to really be here and speak up. Because they trusted us yesterday with what they heard in this meeting,” said commissioner Vanessa Baugh.

Servia said she was hoping it would pass however she proposed a different option.

“What do we do in the interim to get masks on people? And to ask this board to go the resolution path,” said Servia.

Other commissioners said there wouldn’t be enough time for a resolution since the board goes into break at the end of the week until the end of July.

The motion was also shut down. Some commissioners asking if a plan B was in place.

“I will say cloth face coverings have been proven to be effective in the stop of COVID-19 with the public. It is one of the last tools in our toolbox to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Jacob Saur.

Other commissioners said it’s the responsibility of the community to be respectful of others.

“So we’re encouraging people to wear masks which is what this ordinance was going to be about. That was the last tool in the toolbox and we’re not going to do it...” said Commissioner Carol Whitmore.

Instead of ordering mandatory face coverings commissioners say they support businesses requiring customers to wear masks prior to entering their businesses. They say they also support social distancing if masks are removed.

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