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Collier County Commissioners discuss masks

Will Collier County Commissioners decide to implement a mandatory mask policy? That’s a question on the minds of many county residents and on the minds of county leaders.

Some members of the Collier County Tourism Development Council think it would help residents of the county feel safer.

Not only that but it could send a message to the tourism industry as a whole that masks should be required for service.

But many business owners and consumers in Collier County are divided over the idea of having to wear masks in public. Some fear that it could drive away business.

“The only tourism we are getting is weekend based and it’s all from Miami,” said Andrew Marinaro, owner of Kilwins.

General manager of Vergina’s restaurant, Eric Tancredi said, “You’ve seen that the tourists are not as actively coming into dining but we are getting a little bit of an overflow from the East Coast as well.”

But these business owners do disagree on what the effect of a masks mandate could do for tourism on Fifth Avenue in Naples and throughout Collier County.

Specifically for our area I don’t think it would matter either way to be honest with you,” Marinaro said. 

Marinaro added that he’s seen a lot of people come to Naples, and to Kilwins, from Miami and other Western cities and towns because the restrictions are lighter. “You see the same thing mask mandates over in Miami so the people come over here and they don’t wear masks,” he said.

But Tancredi thinks a mask mandate will help the customers feel more at ease when heading out. “I think that a lot of the businesses have adapted and understood that people want to see the masks. For them, to have that responsibility as well is important.”

Last week the Collier County Tourism Development Council voted to approve a recommendation that would allow them to further consider mandating masks in public.

“We require people to wear clothing.  That is not unconstitutional.  We require seat belts.  That is not unconstitutional,” said County Commissioner Andy Solis.

But Commissioner Bill McDaniel claims the recommendation is based on ‘anecdotal evidence’ and does not believe the mask requirement should be put in place.

“I would rather spend more time and more money and more energy educating our population on the benefits of wearing a mask, how to properly wear a mask,” McDaniel said.

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