SWFL leaders continue to discuss mask mandates

The discussion over mask mandates continues at the local level for municipalities in Southwest Florida.

The City of Bonita Springs, Collier County commissioners and Charlotte County commissioners are all scheduled to discuss mask mandates in their respective communities Tuesday.

We spoke to leaders in Bonita Springs Monday ahead of the city council meeting, and council members are not all on the same page regarding a mask mandate.

The mayor of Bonita Springs says he does not want to require masks, while some in his community say they do.

At Enzo’s Pizzeria and Italian Ristorante, masks are now a part of the uniform.

“We actually have customers that come in daily, and they actually tell us they appreciate our staff wearing masks and wearing gloves,” co-owner Vincenzo Puleio said. “It makes them feel, I guess, more comfortable dining here.”

That’s why Puleio says he would not mind seeing a mask mandate in BonitaSprings.

“If we had to decide, we would be in favor of wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing until we see case spikes drop and eventually start to taper down,” Puleio said.

Puleio is not the only one with his mindset on masks.

“We have to consider other people when we are deciding whether or not we are going to wear the mask,” said Steven McKeon in Bonita Springs. “It’s not about us. It’s about protecting the rest of the population.”

“I’ve been seeing it so far, so that’s a good thing for somebody out of town,” said Carlos Giraldo, who was visiting from Miami. “It makes me feel comfortable to come and spend some time and spend some money and help out some of the businesses here too.”

But members of Bonita Springs City Council say they are not sure if there will be enough votes to pass a mask mandate. Mayor Peter Simmons says he will not vote to mandate masks, but he urges people to wear them.

“Individuals’ personal rights, and I don’t want to impede on those or get in the way of those,” Simmons said.

Councilman Fred Forbes said he is all for a mask mandate.

“I do think we need to try something to see if this will reduce the number of new cases per day as well as reduce the new hospitalizations,” Forbes said.

Bonita Springs City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Charlotte County and Collier County commissioners will meet Tuesday morning to discuss masks.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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