Holmes Beach extends mask mandate to 2021

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Jeanine Scharpf of Orlando wears a mask Sept. 11 while shopping at Sun and Surf Beach Shop, 5418 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. The city requires people to wear masks inside businesses.

Holmes Beach wants people to mask up against the novel coronavirus through the end of 2020.

At a Sept. 10 meeting, commissioners unanimously approved an emergency ordinance extending the city’s face covering mandate until the first regular meeting in 2021, which is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

The commission can vote at any time to repeal the order before that date.

Holmes Beach approved an emergency order June 25 mandating face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained, with exceptions.

Mayor Judy Titsworth signed an executive order Sept. 8 extending the emergency ordinance until Sept. 15.

She said Sept. 10 that she could keep extending the order weekly until the commission is comfortable with the decline in COVID-19 cases. Another option would be for commissioners to approve an emergency ordinance to expire on a date certain.

Commission Chair Jim Kihm, who placed the matter on the agenda, said he favored the emergency ordinance.

“If we do it, we can set it up longer-term,” Kihm said. “If coronavirus, by some miracle, goes away, we could always cancel it.”

City attorney Patricia Petruff said she wrote the ordinance with the intent that it be extended 90 days to be close to the end of the year.

Kihm asked for a motion for an emergency ordinance to extend the face-covering requirement through Dec. 31.

Commissioner Terry Schaefer suggested the ordinance expire at the first meeting in January 2021, so there is no lapse between the end of the year and the first meeting.

Petruff agreed with Schaefer’s recommendation.

Kihm asked Police Chief Bill Tokajer to weigh in on any enforcement issues and Tokajer said there was one incident where a person was trespassed from a business for refusing to wear a mask, but no other problems.

“Everybody is doing the right thing and telling people when they go into businesses to mask up,” he said.

The motion to approve the emergency ordinance extending the face-covering mandate, expiring Jan. 12, 2021, passed unanimously.

“I think this is a practical approach that takes the onus off the mayor,” Schaefer said. “If the coast is clear, and lets all hope that is maybe a remote possibility, we can rescind this prior to it’s expiration, if we’re so fortunate.”