Seed To Table owner protests Collier County’s mask mandate

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Collier County Commissioners voted Tuesday to mandate that masks be worn in public businesses all throughout the county. While some feel safer with this new regulation in place, others feel their rights are being infringed upon.

Seed To Table owner Alfie Oakes organized a protest Saturday for others who feel that masks are unconstitutional and the county should not be allowed to require people to wear them.

“They can’t tell me I have to wear a mask,” said Drew Read. “I’m not going to wear a mask to make somebody feel comfortable.”

Oakes believes people like Read and himself just have to keep fighting for what they believe. “We will keep fighting. We will not back down,” Oakes said.

Oakes’ attorney announced at the protest that they will be suing Collier County and the individual commissioners that voted yes on the mandate. Jim Boatman Jr., Esq., Oakes’ attorney, said that the mandate is an example of the government overstepping.

“It’s violative of the Florida constitution which gives individual citizens the absolute right to make their own decisions regarding health care,” Boatman said.

WINK News reached out to all three commissioners who voted in favor of the mask mandate.

Commissioner Penny Taylor is one of the three who voted yes, after initially voting no. Taylor said, “I’m not arguing constitutionality. I’m arguing health care and just a sickness and illness and all the things that go on with COVID that is highly contagious and can be deadly for some folks.”

Commissioner Andy Solis said, “No comment other than that it will be referred to and defended by the county attorney. Any future inquiries can be sent to him. Thanks.”

Commissioner Burt Saunders has yet to respond.

WINK News also reached out to County Attorney Jeffrey Klatzkow and has yet to hear back.

Attorney and FGCU professor of justice studies Pamela Seay said the mandate may be difficult to enforce but it is not unconstitutional.

“There’s reasonable cause to say I will not wear one, but there is also good reason to say you must,” Seay said. However, you can be required to wear a mask.”

WINK News contacted Collier County Code Enforcement to see how they would handle Saturday’s rally and we’ve yet to hear a response.

Collier County’s mask mandate is set to expire at midnight on Sept. 3, but could be extended.

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