ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — St. Johns County Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to "strongly recommend businesses require customers to wear masks."
District 5 Commissioner Henry Dean said the spike in COVID-19 cases in Florida and the science behind masks pushed him to propose the new program, which will be part of Pledge St. Johns County, a program that offers businesses the opportunity to commit to CDC guidelines and ensure St. Johns County residents, visitors and employees are safe and comfortable in their establishments.
St. Johns County will also be helping out businesses who make this pledge to require customers to wear masks.
“(District 3) Commissioner (Paul) Waldron made a good suggestion that we could offer to supply those masks at no cost the business so they would not be affected at a financial standpoint," Dean said.
If a growing number of people continue to go into St. Johns County businesses without masks, Dean said he fully intends to propose an ordinance that requires everyone to wear masks inside public buildings.
“I’m trying to do this in a way that we could go the residents and visitor’s cooperation without forcing a mandate, and let’s see how it goes," he explained.
In St. Augustine, city leaders are still figuring out what strategy is best for the community as a whole.
“We’re looking at any and all options, and we have reviewed some other ordinances that are associated with mandatory masks," St. Augustine City Manager John Regan said.
He added if the city does consider a mandatory mask ordinance, leaders will have to consider how it will be implemented before it can be put in place.
“It’s not a good practice to pass laws that are hollow," Regan explained.
Regan said it’s a shame mask have become a political issue.
He wants to remind St. Augustine residents and visitors the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over and wearing masks in public is still important.