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Punta Gorda police focus on education of mask mandate in city

One reason why some cities and counties in Southwest Florida have decided against a mandatory mask ordinance is enforcement. Our Safety & Security Specialist found out how a city in Southwest Florida is handling its mask mandate.

The City of Punta Gorda passed a mask mandate recently, and the next step is ensuring the public follows the order.

“When you walk into a public building, if you cannot social distance continuously, you have to have a mask on,” said Chief Pam Davis of Punta Gorda Police Department.

While it is not a criminal issue, the police are in charge of enforcing the city ordinance.

“It’s a civil issue, so it’s a code citation if you are caught not wearing your mask and you won’t put it on,” Davis explained. “You can be cited using our code citation.”

It’s been so far, so good when it comes to compliance.

Davis told us her officers have only responded to four complaints in person so far. The goal is not to have to write a citation.

“We like to make sure they are educated, so they understand the ordinance,” Davis said. “Generally, once we educate them, they’re usually pretty cooperative about it.”

Davis said her officers have no problem educating and enforcing the mask rules in the community.

But seeing someone without a mask is not a police emergency, and she asked that anyone calling about a violation of the rules use the police department’s non-emergency number — 941-639-4111.

The chief also encourages local businesses to explain the ordinance.

“We don’t want people confronting other people about wearing the mask because it can become very volatile,” Davis said.

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Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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