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Sarasota Tuesday, May 4, 2021 1 week ago

City scraps plans for mask ordinance

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An executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis rendered consideration of a mask mandate moot, the city attorney said.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

The city of Sarasota won’t be adopting another ordinance mandating the use of facial coverings following an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis limiting the emergency regulatory power of local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City Commission was scheduled to consider approving a mask mandate at a public hearing Tuesday, with a majority of the board signaling its support for the measure. But at Monday’s commission meeting, City Attorney Robert Fournier said the order DeSantis issued Monday restricted the city’s ability to adopt the proposed ordinance.

DeSantis’s executive order suspended “all local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on individuals and businesses.” The order also establishes that no local government can establish an emergency ordinance related to COVID-19 that includes restrictions on businesses or individuals.

The commission let its previous mask mandate expire in February. At the time, a majority of the board noted that previous orders from DeSantis nullified the enforcement provisions associated with the ordinance. In March, Commissioner Kyle Battie — who voted to let the mask mandate expire — said he wanted to pursue the establishment of a new mask ordinance, voting with Commissioners Liz Alpert and Jen Ahearn-Koch in support of drafting updated regulations.

In March, the commission unanimously adopted a resolution supporting mask-wearing to fight the spread of COVID-19.

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