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Punta Gorda city council tables mask mandate discussion for a week

Punta Gorda City Council members decided Wednesday to wait a week before making any decisions on whether to mandate masks.

If the city moves forward with a mask mandate, it would only be enforceable indoors.

The council will revisit the issue at their July 8 meeting.

“The fire has been burning for three months, we have to at least put some water on it,” said Charles Peck of Punta Gorda.

“Do I necessarily fully agree with it? To a point yes and to a point no,” said resident William Holtmann.

There’s no straightforward answer. “I feel uncomfortable telling people they have to do something but at the same time if we don’t do that, it’s never going to happen,” said Lynne Matthews, vice mayor.

City leaders are looking closely at mandates in nearby Sanibel and Sarasota. The ordinance, if passed, would only require people wear masks in public places, indoors, and include a few exceptions so it’s easy for police to enforce.

“The mask protects me and protects you. Mostly it protects me from being a spreader,” Peck said.

Council members said they’ve heard from local store owners who believe a mandate could give them a much-needed boost.

“Some people feel like they are not getting as much business as they could because people are afraid to go shop,” said Mayor Nancy Prafke.

Others argue the requirement may turn out more like a restraint.

“I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to take their precautions in how they believe in it,” Holtmann said.

The council is waiting another week to give everyone time to prepare. The city attorney has to draft the ordinance and the public will have time to submit feedback to council members.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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