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Collier County mandates face masks in businesses, indoor public places

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Masks now must be worn in Collier County businesses and indoor public spaces in an effort to control the coronavirus pandemic. Although the measure narrowly failed a week ago, county commissioners revisited the mandate at an emergency meeting Tuesday and voted 3-2 for its passage. Business owners must require face coverings in business establishments or face fines. First violations will receive a warning, but then graduated fines for subsequent violations will be assessed with fines not to exceed $500. Exceptions to the mandate include businesses such as restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, barbershops and beauty salons where wearing a mask could interfere with service. Masks also are exempt for church congregations and children 9 and under. The mandate expires on midnight Sept. 3 unless the order is otherwise extended by commissioners. Another 3-2 vote permits county staff to spend up to $25,000 to educate and assist businesses in compliance with the mandate. The three of the four commissioners on the dais Tuesday who wore masks – Burt Saunders, Andy Solis and Penny Taylor – voted for the mandate. Voting no were Commissioner Bill McDaniel, who did not wear a mask, and Commissioner Donna Fiala, who monitored the meeting remotely via telephone. “Wearing a mask is an inconvenience, but in the long run will potentially slow the spread and allow us to grow our economy,” Saunders says. McDaniel argued for personal choice and tolerance to wear or not wear a mask. “This mandate is nothing but a feel-good touch. It’s proposing restrictions on law-abiding citizens,” he says.  

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