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Longboat Key Thursday, Jul. 2, 2020 6 months ago

Longboat Key to require masks starting Friday

The policy takes effect Friday.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Longboat Key town commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to require people to wear face coverings in public areas where social distancing guidelines cannot be met with certain exceptions.

The town’s mandatory mask rule takes effect Friday.

The town has set up free mask pick up points around the town, like this one at Station 91 firehouse.

Any person older than 6 years old is required to wear a mask in the town. It includes in public places, indoor places other than a home and outdoor places where social distancing is difficult or not possible. The adult responsible for a child between ages 6-18 and would be responsible if that child is not wearing a mask.

Town attorney Maggie Mooney said the town’s code enforcement officer or police officers can issue citations, which are not criminal in nature. A first offense is punishable up to $100, second offense $250 and third or subsequent offenses $500.

Mooney said the town cannot cite a child — anyone younger than 18 years old — for not wearing a mask.

It is up to parents’ discretion whether children ages 2-6 should wear a mask.

“I believe that the town manager and his staff are preparing to get ready for what enforcement will mean in terms of how to get that messaging out and who to call,” Mooney said.

Anyone who sees someone without a mask where it is required can call the Longboat Key Police Department's non-emergency number at (941) 316-1201.

The rules include businesses and common areas of condominium communities. 

“We are preparing, upon adoption, to send out a message to all the businesses in town this afternoon,” Harmer said. “We're also prepared a notice that can be placed at their business announcing that this mandatory mask ordinance has been adopted.”

The town will also provide businesses additional information, including a fact sheet and how to address any breaches of the new rules.

The Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department has distributed 600 masks so far, according to Harmer. Anyone can pick up a free mask outside Station 91 at 5490 Gulf of Mexico Drive, the Paradise Center at 546 Bay Isles Road or the Chamber of Commerce at 5390 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Harmer also said the town's Publix store at the Shoppes of Bay Isles is considering the possibility of providing masks for its customers.

“They've indicated that they're going to check with their corporate, but they believe that if this is adopted —  which is now has been — that Publix may provide masks for their customers,” Harmer said. “He's going to confirm that with us.”

“That would be great,” Mayor Ken Schneier said.

The emergency mask ordinance remains in effect for 60 days, which is scheduled for Sept. 1. The town could extend the ordinance if necessary.

The city of Sarasota began enforcing a similar mandatory mask policy on Wednesday. Mooney said state health authorities report that 16 counties and 66 cities in Florida have adopted some sort of face-mask ordinance.

Earlier this week, the town of Longboat Key closed its public beach parking in advance of the Fourth of July holiday weekend to stop the spread of COVID-19. Before Tuesday's closure, parking at the town's 12 public beach access points had also previously been closed from March 21 until June 1.

Click or tap here to read Emergency Ordinance 2020-10 in its entirety.



Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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