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Martin County commissioners rescind mask mandate

Commissioners vote 3 to 2 to get ride of mandate
Posted at 7:28 AM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 17:32:48-04

STUART, Fla. — It's no longer mandatory to wear face masks in certain places in Martin County.

In a 3 to 2 vote on Tuesday, commissioners decided to rescind the county's mask mandate completely.

The ordinance had required residents to wear a face mask inside public businesses, restaurants, and government buildings, as well as outside when social distancing wasn't possible.

The ordinance included several exemptions.

Around 12:15 p.m., commissioners took a vote to keep the mandate in place with no changes, but that motion failed with a 2 to 2 vote.

About four hours later, commissioners voted again and rescinded the mandate.

Martin County has gone back and forth this year on whether to have a mask mandate.

The county passed one in July, let it lapse in early August, and reinstated it a few weeks later.

Tuesday's vote was in response to a recent decision by Gov. Ron DeSantis to move Florida into Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan, lifting restrictions on businesses and suspending all fees and fines on COVID-19 orders.

"Having an ordinance with no teeth that has no enforcement is ridiculous. It’s got nothing," said Harold Jenkins, the Martin County Commission chairman.

The decision to rescind the mask mandate does not impact Martin County schools.

A district spokeswoman told WPTV that the district has the authority to make its own decision on masks, and with flu season on the horizon, the mask requirement continues to be an important risk mitigation strategy.