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Manatee County to consider mask mandate

Manatee commissioners torn between personal responsibility and need to promote public safety.

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  • | 2:24 p.m. July 22, 2020
Manatee County commissioners will talk again about mask requirements July 27.
Manatee County commissioners will talk again about mask requirements July 27.
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Manatee County commissioners on July 27 will consider a resolution mandating facial coverings in public spaces in Manatee County in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. The board also will consider moving forward with a similar ordinance, which would allow it to be enforced by law.

The resolution is considered a stop-gap measure until an ordinance can be drafted and approved.

Commissioners voted 4-3 today to discuss the mandate at 1:30 p.m. July 27 at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. Commissioners Betsy Benac, Misty Servia, Reggie Bellamy and Carol Whitmore supported the motion, while commissioners Vanessa Baugh, Steve Jonsson and Priscilla Trace voted against it. 

"I think the government needs to say we all need to step up and do everything we can to slow this," Benac said. 

Jonsson said he did not believe it was government's role to regulate in that manner, and individuals and businesses should take personal responsibility.

The proposed ordinance likely would be modeled after the mask mandate being used in Leon County. It has been upheld in court. It requires that an individual in a business establishment must wear a face covering while in that business establishment. It also provides exceptions for children younger than 6 years old, those with certain medical conditions and individuals social distancing while exercising, among other provisions.

Any ordinance would coincide with the county's emergency order for COVID-19 and would be reconsidered on a weekly basis.



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