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Naples, NCH initiative welcomes visitors for season, follows pandemic guidelines

The city of Naples wants its visitors know it’s safe to return to the community during the busy season amid the pandemic.

Naples and NCH Healthcare System announced its “All Heroes Wear Masks” initiative Thursday to welcome visitors while staying conscious about COVID-19 in the community.

“This is therapy for me, so I literally will pack up all my toys and come out here,” Colleen Hogan said.

While she takes her mask off once at her spot on the sand, Hogan always has it ready.

“Just to make everybody else around me feel comfortable and secure, you know?” Hogan said. “It’s just being respectful.”

That’s what Naples Mayor Teresa Heitmann wants to see.

“We are wearing a mask,” Heitmann said. “Our community has been very respectful.”

As season arrives, the hope is visitors feel safe enough to come back and walk down 5th Avenue, visit the Naples Pier or take a stroll on the beach.

“We are safe. Naples is safe,” Heitmann said. “And we want you to come back. We want you to visit. We want our seasonal residents to feel comfortable.”

Collier County also has its initiative, “Paradise Pledge,” which includes over 100 local businesses agreeing to follow social distancing and other guidelines.

“We say we strongly recommend mask coverings for staff and customers alike,” said Jack Wert, the executive director for Collier County tourism.

“I just want the people around me to feel comfortable,” Wert said.

Heitmann says, because many in the community already wear masks, initiatives like this are the way to go rather than implementing any sort of mask mandate.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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