Manatee County commissioners today voted 4-3 to mandate the wearing of facial coverings in public spaces when social distancing is not possible.
“I certainly agree we shouldn’t have to mandate this but the reality is we do have to mandate it because people aren’t wearing masks,” Commissioner Betsy Benac said. “They don’t think it’s necessary. They think it’s their prerogative to make decisions about themselves, but it’s about public safety.”
Exceptions to the rules include situations in which a 6 foot minimum distance between people is possible, for children under 6 years old, for persons who have trouble breathing due to chronic pre-existing conditions, for public safety personnel (whose respective agencies will guide protective gear requirements), for restaurant and bar patrons while eating or drinking and for individuals staying in a lodging establishment while they are in their rooms or units.
Businesses also must display signs notifying all persons to the requirement.
Violations of the resolution are a noncriminal infraction.
For a first offense, an individual can get a warning.
For a second offense, the fine is $50.
A third offense is $125, and subsequent offenses are $250.
To read the proposed resolution, for which the fee structure was changed at the meeting, click here.
Commissioners Benac, Carol Whitmore, Reggie Bellamy and Misty Servia supported the resolution. Commissioners Steve Jonsson, Priscilla Trace and Vanessa Baugh opposed it.