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Naples City Council decides against mask mandate

You won’t be required to wear a face mask in the city of Naples. The city council decided Thursday afternoon to forgo any plans requiring face coverings outside or in buildings.

Opinions were mixed among those at the meeting and who spoke to WINK News.

Jim Melican, president of the Gulf Shore Association of Condominiums, said his neighbors don’t feel safe as season begins and more people stream into Southwest Florida.

“I know from personal observation that most of the people that I see on the streets of Naples, and I specifically walked the street last Saturday night, are not wearing masks,” he said.

Leigh Kistler, however, feels most people already complying without a mask mandate.

“I see it being an unnecessary mandate. And mandate is like it sounds: it’s ‘You will do this.’,” she said. “Not really the American style that I grew up with.”

The council ultimately agreed, with Mayor Teresa Heitmann touting the City’s “All Heroes Wear Masks” campaign.

“We are doing what we need to do as policymakers in making sure that we get the message out, educating the community, providing masks and encouraging the CDC guidelines.”

There was mixed mask-wearing at the meeting on Thursday, with two of the council members opting to mask up.

Businesses are doing everything they can to survive the pandemic, and some say that wearing a mask can help slow the spread and hope the City’s decision to just educate people is enough.

“I think if everyone just did it for a few months, the vaccine is coming out, it makes it easier on the businesses so we don’t have to become the mask police,” said Todd Brooks, who owns Brook’s Burgers in Naples.

“If it helps a few people before March or April or until we get it [the vaccine], then it’s an easy fix.”

Brooks is proud of his business, with four locations across Collier County, but after 10 years, the future is uncertain.

“It has been an economic trial; I don’t know if all four will make it out.”

Lately, he has served up fewer burgers at his downtown Naples restaurant.

“I’ve noticed in the last three weeks since people have been coming down from the north, they’re much more afraid of what’s happening. We’ve actually seen a small dip in sales.”

Heitman said Thursday was the last time the City will consider a mandate because since they began strongly recommending masks, a majority of people and businesses in Naples have complied.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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