Commissioners approved an executive order Thursday that extends the Collier County mask mandate for nearly six months because of the pandemic. The order requires cloth coverings of one’s nose and mouth in public buildings and business establishments in the unincorporated areas of the county until April 13, the end of the season. During the meeting, commissioners Burt Saunders, Andy Solis and Penny Taylor wore face masks, telegraphing the 3-2 vote. Commissioners Donna Fiala and Bill McDaniel, who did not wear masks on the dais, voted against extending the mandate. Of the roughly 50 citizens who spoke in person or remotely about the issue during Thursday afternoon’s more than four-hour special meeting, about 30 were against extending the order, while 20 were for it. Saunders, Solis and Taylor said the hundreds of emails they each recently received overwhelmingly favored continuing the mandate. The revised order, maintained through county code enforcement complaints, will apply when social distancing is not possible. There are some exceptions; for instance, the requirement does not apply to restaurant patrons while seated at a table, gym patrons while working out, or by people getting haircuts if wearing a face-covering interferes with service. Also, masks are not required for children under the age of 9 or anyone who has breathing difficulties.
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