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Apalachicola enlists mask mandate as coronavirus cases rise across Big Bend region

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 18:22:04-04

APALACHICOLA, Fla. (WTXL) — Apalachicola is the newest city to mandate masks be worn inside businesses.

Signs requiring masks are popping up across Apalachicola and, starting Thursday, they'll be accompanied by a new law.

Mayor Kevin Begos says he put the ordinance in place after seeing the number of coronavirus cases rise across the region and the state.

He says it could also help the city's economy.

"I want to keep businesses open, but if the pandemic just keeps growing and growing that's not good for business either," said Begos.

The ordinance requires people six and up without health complications to wear a mask anytime they're inside a business, unless they are eating, exercising or worshiping.

Claire Donovan, a tourist, says it's a step in the right direction.

"I honestly think there should be an ordinance because so many people aren't wearing them, and you know this disease isn't going anywhere," Donovan said.

Others, like tourist Lisette Rushing, say people should be cautious and take the virus seriously, but face coverings shouldn't be a law.

"I don't think it should be mandated," said Rushing. "If you want to wear a mask, I think it's totally up to you. As far as stores requiring masks, I guess, if they feel safer, so be it."

In Leon County, those who violate the mask ordinance could be fined or face a court appearance, leaving some concerned about possible consequences.

"If someone just isn't going to put on a mask, you know, nobody's going to throw them in jail," said Begos.

The ordinance will be in place for at least a week and can be extended at the mayor's discretion.