Fort Myers Beaches hope for steady stream July 4 weekend

Fort Myers Beach voted in favor of no restrictions for the holiday weekend at its Wednesday meeting, but the town did implement masks for certain places, urging you to wear masks inside businesses.

We spoke to businesses in town that are hopeful to still see a steady stream of customers during July 4 holiday weekend.

The beaches are staying open for their regular hours on Fort Myers Beach, and masks won’t be required there. However, masks will be required in places such as Time Square and inside businesses. That goes for both employees and customers.

Some Fort Myers Beach businesses, such as Local Color gift gallery & boutique, already require masks for everyone inside.

So, when the town council approved a new mandate requiring masks, Rob Green, the assistant to the Local Color owner, felt it made sense.

“Especially for the people that are coming in from out of town, we don’t know where they’ve been, what airport they’ve been,” Green said. “Not that they know where I’ve been either. But it’s just it’s a comfort level.”

People on the beach or in public parks are not required to wear masks. You also don’t have to wear one in church or if you have a disability.

“If you’re going to be in close proximity to people, then I get that,” said Robert Coller, from Ohio. “For me, I really don’t care to wear the mask, but I will just for other people.”

“It kind of sucks, but, if that’s what’s going to help the world get better, then, I want to be a part of it, you know?” said Zane Herrin, from Missouri.

Some restaurants feel like wearing a mask is a choice, one that should be left up to customers. Owner Jacinta Ingram of Mango Ritas says they’ve already closed all indoor seating since May.

“What if they don’t have one? So now we just lose more business, or they get mad,” Ingram said. “Again, we’re not the sheriff’s department or the code enforcement. I don’t feel like it’s our responsibility to be able to tell all customers to have something like that.”

After midnight Wednesday, people on Fort Myers Beach can be fined up to $50 for not following the new rules. Businesses can also face fines of up to $500.

Although customers won’t be required to wear a mask when seated outside, Ingram worries the mandate could hurt businesses even more than it’s already been hit during the pandemic.”

“To be able to be open by May 1 was exciting for us,” Ingram said. “Now, we’re walking on eggshells again.”

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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