Collier County sees downward trend with mask mandate, ensures businesses comply

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Owner Autumn Halstead wears a mask at Beach Box Cafe in Collier County, following the county’s mask mandate. Credit: WINK News

A judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on Collier County’s mask mandate. The lawsuit was filed by Alfie Oakes, the owner of Oakes Farms and Seed to Table Market.

The Collier County Board of County Commissioners mandated masks July 21. Since then, cases have dropped dramatically. It now has an 8% positivity rate. While that might have helped the decline, not all businesses have complied. One of those is Oakes’ Seed to Table Market.

We looked into complaints against businesses that ignored the mandate in Collier County.

From department stores to pharmacies, more than 60 businesses have been reported to the Collier County code enforcement for mask mandate violations. Autumn Halstead’s The Beach Box Cafe is one of them.

“Code enforcement called immediately just to let us know that somebody had called and complained, stating that we weren’t mandating masks,” Halstead told WINK News.

But code enforcement visited the cafe and saw signs at the business that showed a request for mask compliance.

“My sign says mask up and sit down,” Halstead said.

Her employees were also wearing masks, so officers closed the case.

“Very easy,” Halstead said. “As long as you’re doing your job and doing what you can to make sure people are wearing the masks, we don’t have a problem.”

Most businesses haven’t received citations in Collier County, but Seed to Table and Oakes Farms Market have a combined five citations.

“I’m not even sure how many we have, but, like I said, it doesn’t matter to me because I never have any intention of ever paying them,” Alfie Oakes told WINK News.

Oakes plans to fight the citations because he believes masks don’t help prevent COVID-19.

Kristine Hollingsworth with the Florida Department of Health in Collier County does not agree with Oakes’ claims.

“Maintaining the mitigation efforts like wearing a mask helps stop droplet transmission of COVID-19,” Hollingsworth said.

The positivity rate of the virus is trending downward in Collier County.

“Prior to that, we have had positivity rates upwards of over 10%,” Hollingsworth said.

For this reason, Halstead said, “Unsafe or uncomfortable? I’ll take the uncomfortable.” She also said she’ll continue to support the mandate.

MORE: Collier County Mask Order 2020

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