Masks may become mandatory in Collier County

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

Cases of COVID-19 have been rising in Collier County, with more than 3,200 recorded as of Monday morning. This comes after the state began its “phase one” reopening plan.

According to CDC reports, the most effective way to slow the spread of the coronavirus is by wearing masks, and on Monday, Collier County leaders were looking at the data and rise in cases to see if mandatory masks could be a solution.

“In general, employers can fire employees for whatever reason and in this case, it’s not only that they actually have a good reason to, a recommendation at government federal level,” said Dr. Joe Lui, FGCU assistant professor of management with a concentration in human resources.

Lui also said, though, how do you enforce this? “There are political considerations but in addition to that the enforcement is difficult…what do you do when a citizen doesn’t wear a face mask when they’re walking from their house to their car? Are there enough police officers? Who do you send to enforce this?”

Some in Collier County think mandating masks is a terrible idea.

“Don’t force us to wear it,” said Frank Carolas of Marco Island. “‘I don’t think the general public will allow for that even though there’s a certain portion of the population that will like it.”

“They should let the world continue to do what it does,” he said.

Nicole Miller and her family said they don’t mind being told to wear masks in businesses that make social distancing difficult.

“We’ve got elderly that need to be able to get out and socialize too and not be stuck in their homes simply because everyone else wants to go out and enjoy themselves without a mask, so if we’re all on the same boat and we’re abiding, then I think it makes sense,” Miller said.

Tony Ridgeway, owner of Tony’s Off Third, said they’re taking the pandemic very seriously at his business.

“We do not take the COVID virus lightly…we recognize that it’s a serious problem, it needs to be treated that way and we’re trying to be very careful,” he said.

He said he “would love it if the customers would all arrive at the front door with a mask on and then when they’re seated with their group of individuals, they can choose to either wear their mask or not…”

Ridgeway also wants people to remember, “there isn’t anybody that just loves wearing the masks.”

Liu said people who have certain medical conditions would have the right to go without a mask – for now. The City of Marco Island and the City of Naples are only strongly recommending you wear masks in situations where social distancing is difficult, but if conditions worsen, both cities and county commissioners said it’s something they may discuss.

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