Mask mandate fails at Collier County meeting, but use is recommended

A mask mandate failed again in Collier County. Commissioners heard five hours of public comment on Tuesday and most people wanted a mask mandate, but the commissioners decided enforcement would be a problem and voted 3-2 against it.

It was a long day for commissioners, who heard around 200 speakers weigh in on what they call the most controversial issue they’ve dealt with in years.

Speakers passionately shared their sentiments with commissioners for hours about whether or not to require masks in Collier County. They were neighbors, business people, and one commenter was a COVID-19 survivor.

At times, the discussion got heated, with some speakers sharing pointed messages at commissioners.

In the end, the commissioners talked about several options. They even discussed amending the original ordinance to eliminate criminality and excuse places of worship and children under 10 from following the mandate.

“It will be our legacy if we don’t handle this properly,” Commissioner Andy Solis said. “And it will be what people remember because it is the most significant event that we have had, even more so than Hurricane Irma.”

But there was not enough support to pass a mask mandate.

“I have said from the beginning of this outbreak that the individual’s responsibility for their own health care is paramount,” Commissioner Bill McDaniel said.

Commissioners said the resolution they approved a few weeks ago that strongly encourages people to wear masks in public still stands.

Commissioners Solis and Burt Saunders voted in favor of the mandate, while Commissioners Penny Taylor, Donna Fiala and Bill McDaniel voted against it.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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