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Mask mandate passes unanimously in Martin County

Offenders face $50 fine on first offense
Martin County meeting
Posted at 11:24 AM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 21:00:15-04

STUART, Fla. — Commissioners in Martin County on Tuesday unanimously passed a public mask mandate by a vote of 5-0.

About four hours of public comments were held during the meeting, which began at 1:30 p.m. and ended around 6:45 p.m.

MORE: Latest news on the coronavirus

The mask ordinance imposes a noncriminal infraction but "shall be enforced by county law enforcement agencies." A person cannot be arrested for violating the mandate.

Offenders can be fined $50 on the first offense, $100 for a second offense and $250 on a third offense.

Commissioners said the government will provide masks to all members of the community.

The ordinance will expire on Aug. 8 or upon the expiration of the local or state emergency.

A Martin County resident speaks in opposition to a proposed mask mandate during a meeting held July 7, 2020.
A Martin County resident speaks in opposition to a proposed mask mandate during a meeting held July 7, 2020.

The new county mask mandate will require everyone to wear masks both inside and outside public places where social distancing isn't possible.

However, the ordinance does not apply to religious organizations in their house of worship.

Face coverings are not required for the following:

· Children under 6 years of age and any child while under the custody of a licensed childcare facility, including schools, summer camps and daycare centers

· Individuals prohibited from wearing face coverings by federal or state safety or health regulations

· Public safety, fire or other life safety personnel that have personal protective equipment requirements governed by their respective agencies

· Persons actively engaged in exercise and who are social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines

· Persons receiving goods and services from a business or establishment for the shortest practical period of time during which the receipt of such goods or services necessarily precludes the wearing of a face covering such as, but not limited to, consuming food or beverage or receiving dental services, facial grooming or treatments

· Persons who have a medical condition or disability that makes the wearing of face coverings unsafe

· Face coverings may be removed temporarily while assisting persons who are hearing impaired or who rely on reading lips in order to communicate

· Persons in private rooms of a lodging establishment, such as hotel, motel or vacation rental; however, face coverings must be worn in common areas as proscribed by this ordinance

· Persons engaged in outdoor work or recreation with appropriate social distancing pursuant to CDC guidelines in place and being practiced

The majority of the residents who spoke Tuesday were against a mask mandate.

One woman during the public comment portion of the meeting said a mask mandate would be "like a controlling boyfriend telling me what to wear."

During an 11-hour meeting last Thursday, a proposed ordinance failed that would have required everyone to wear facial coverings in all public places.

Commissioner Ed Ciampi said a previous order failed Thursday because violators could have faced a misdemeanor.

Masks were already required for all workers in Martin County under a previous order.

As of Tuesday, Martin County has had 2,461 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 31 deaths.