Punta Gorda upholds mask mandate during special meeting on Phase 3 reopening

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Punta Gorda storefront. Credit: WINK News

The Punta Gorda City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to maintain its mask mandate but not enforce it during a special meeting to discuss what should be done about the mandate and other Phase 3 concerns.

On Sept. 25, Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended COVID-19-related fines and penalties aimed at individuals. Punta Gorda says it hasn’t issued anyone a fine for not wearing a mask indoors, and the governor’s executive order means it could stay that way.

Businesses, however, still have the right to require masks and turn away customers who try to enter without one.

“When you have the word ‘mandate,’ you’re still telling people ‘you have to, you have to’; no, you don’t have to,” said Jesse Bennett, who lives in Charlotte Ranchettes in Punta Gorda.

City leaders point to the older population. More than half of the residents in Punta Gorda are over 65, which puts them at a higher risk for complications from the virus. Leaders still encourage mask-wearing to keep your neighbors safe.

“We should take one day at a time and enjoy it,” said Adeline Seakwood of Punta Gorda Isles.

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