A clause in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order for Phase 3 says mask fines will be suspended for individuals, but it doesn’t specify if that means businesses as well. Even with the gray area, it pleases some businesses and community members in Collier County that were not happy with the imposed countywide mask mandate.
At Seed to Table Market, owner Alfie Oakes has had plenty of mask mandate fines after saying his store does not require them.
“There are thousands of dollars worth of fines that we’ve received,” Oakes said.
The signs outside See to Table read masks are exempt.
“There’s many, many businesses across the state here that that burden is something that they cannot afford, and I do think it is an act of grace,” Oakes said.
Oakes believes the governor’s announcement to suspend mask fines is going to help more people than just his store.
“We haven’t paid any of those fines, and we weren’t planning to pay any of them,” Oakes said. “But the fact that the gov, through his executive graces, is going to make it not even an issue is really great for us and great for the state.”
People in Collier County hope others don’t forget the precautions because of fine elimination.
“I think people will still be cautious,” said Dave Kotula in Naples.
“Precautions are good,” said Raisa Kotula in Naples. “Even before the corona, people should be cautious, like washing your hands.”
But community members we spoke to are not worried about the risks of getting back to normal.
“I don’t think it’s necessary anymore, really,” said Ted Staub in Naples. “I didn’t know it was necessary to begin with.”
“With this extra step in the right direction, it’s going to be a further reason to put down the mask,” Oakes said.
We reached out to Collier County about the governor’s announcement, and we were told the executive order does not say anything about businesses, only individuals.
The county says it never fined an individual, but a few businesses were fined. Collier County still encourages everyone to wear masks.
We reached out to the governor’s office for clarification, and we’re waiting to hear back.