The St. Augustine City Commission voted unanimously on Friday to mandate that individuals wear masks in public, threatening a fine of up to $500 for those who violate the order.
Mayor Tracy Upchurch, an Associate Professor of Law and History at Flagler College, along with the St. Augustine Commission, approved of the resolution after the mayor proposed postponing the decision, as the morning meeting “got out of control” with a “circle of comments,” as local news outlets indicated.
“We’ve had enough of everything being taken from us,” one commenter said, according to WJCT. “We’ve had enough of being told what to do when this is a free country.”
However, commissioners said they did not want to wait and ultimately carried out the vote on Friday, approving the measure.
“Commission has received in addition to two hours of comment,” Upchurch said. “We find it is an emergency, we adopt the resolution without further public comment.”
The resolution states:
Every person working, living, visiting, or doing business in the City of St. Augustine shall wear a face covering in any indoor location, other than their home or residence, when not maintaining social distancing from other person(s), excluding family members or companions.
It encourages businesses to “prohibit entry of any person who is not wearing a face covering,” minus those who are exempt under the resolution. Exceptions include individuals under the age of two, those who cannot wear a mask due to an existing health condition or disability, and those abiding by social distancing guidelines in accordance with the CDC. Those exercising while maintaining social distancing are also not required to wear a mask, per the resolution:
The requirement does not apply to any outdoor activity permitted under City, County, or State order, but face coverings should be readily available when coming within six (6) feet of an individual not part of a person’s immediate family or cohabitating living unit.
Those who fail to abide by the resolution can face a non-criminal civil infraction, which carries a penalty of up to $500:
Pursuant to Sec. 252.46, Florida Statutes, this Resolution shall have the full force and effect of law, and pursuant to Chapter 2, Article VI, of the Code of the City of St. Augustine, a violation of this Resolution shall be a non-criminal civil infraction, enforceable under Chapter 2, Article VI, Division 2, of the City Code, which carries a penalty of up to a $500.00 fine.
The mask mandate goes into effect Saturday, at 12:01 a.m. WJCT also reported that the commissioners “said they would consider putting together an outdoor mask mandate at a later time.”
Many residents have taken to social media, airing their frustrations. Comments include:
Illegal, unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Here come the Mask Nazi Karens.
They can make people wear a mask but cannot adequately deal with the homeless crime. Amazing.
Call me when I’m free again.
Welp…….. someone tells me to cover my face I will take my money elsewhere.
St. Johns County has reported 682 cases of the virus, 61 hospitalizations, and seven related deaths since March 1.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has stood firm in rejecting the call to impose a statewide mask mandate, and while cases are spiking statewide, the death rate is continuing to fall.
As Breitbart News detailed:
Data from the New York Times COVID-19 dataset, obtained on GitHub, shows that death rates in Texas and Florida are actually falling.
Death rates were calculated by dividing the number of deaths by the number of confirmed cases, as of each date reported. They are expressed as a percentage of known coronavirus infections — not as a percentage of population. There may also be many undetected cases, and deaths tend to lag cases, meaning a current spike in cases might not yet be reflected in the death rate as of today.
In Florida, the death rate peaked at 4.4% in late May, and has fallen to 2.9%. In Texas, the death rate peaked at 2.8% in early May, and has fallen to 1.7%, among the lowest in the nation.
Florida, which has a population of over 21 million, reported 122,960 coronavirus cases since March 1st and 3,366 related deaths as of Friday.