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No decision made on Cape Coral mask mandate, plan to vote Monday

After a long and heated meeting Thursday, the decision on a mask mandate in Cape Coral will have to wait.

Cape Coral leaders held a special meeting Thursday to discuss implementing a mask mandate, however, a decision was not made. Two of the councilmembers left the meeting early and they did not have enough members there to properly vote. In addition, there is no quorum since there were not enough members present, making the entire meeting invalid.

They say they will reconvene on Monday at 4:30 p.m. to hear more public comment before taking a vote.

Residents so far have had differing opinions on the issue.

The majority of people say if wearing a mask can slow the spread of COVID-19, it should be mandated and people should listen.

“If it’s definitely a thing that’s going to help, then yes, we should do it,” said resident Debby Dukes.

Cape Coral mayor Joe Coviello said they will have Lee Health at the meeting to help make their decision. They will brief city leaders on the virus’ spread, hospitalizations, and where things stand in Southwest Florida.

The city recommends the mask mandate be specifically imposed on businesses and would suggest people use it when social distancing isn’t possible.

As far as enforcement goes, Coviello said it won’t be easy but they would make it work.

“So maybe we look at that enforcement as having the bigger box type stores be enforced by the police department and maybe the smaller mom and pop outlets in places and restaurants being forced by code enforcement,” Coviello said.

Coviello said if the mandate passes, it would go into effect immediately so it can be enforced for the holiday weekend.

The measure is a contentious issue. One restaurant owner worries a mask mandate might hurt business even more.

“If a customer comes to my door and I say, ‘No, you can’t come in because you don’t have a mask,’ what’s their thought of my business and myself and my employees going to be? Are they going to come back,” said Vollen Loucks, owner of Duval Street Restaurant.

Coviello said in terms of enforcement, the first offense will get you a $50 fine.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Anika Henanger
Nicole Lauren
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