TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Attendees at Tuesday night's meeting expected to leave with a clear decision on whether commissioners would enforce a county-wide mask mandate. Instead, they learned why the county attorney warns against it.
The Leon County Commission's special meeting on COVID-19
Leon County attorney Chastity H. O’Steen explained new “strict scrutiny” standards from the state that limit the county’s ability to instate a mask mandate.
Chief Chad Abrams said EMS calls for service are 14 percent higher this year than last year. Abrams said in the past five weeks, that has grown 26 percent; however, that number is stabilizing.
Meeting participants applaud as Savour restaurant owner Drew McCleod spoke against the possibility of a mask mandate.
Meeting participants applaud as Savour restaurant owner Drew McCleod speaks against the possibility of a mask mandate, and reminds commissioners of the impact previous COVID closures had on the hospitality industry. pic.twitter.com/7kzc5NaEee
— Karah (@KarahBaileyWTXL) September 7, 2021
McCleod wanted to remind commissioners of the impact previous COVID-19 closures had on the hospitality industry.
Seven Leon County residents joined the meeting to speak in person; all expressed opposition to any mask mandate.
Commissioner Nick Maddox pointed out that health officials have not requested a mask mandate, and that the county doesn’t currently have legal grounds to do.
“Let’s get back to work,” Maddox said.
"I'm not interested in an exercise of futility," said commissioner Carolyn Cummings on the Commission passing a County-wide mask mandate. "[We should] not mandate the masks when we do not have the legal authority to do so."
Kristin Dozier made a motion to require masks in county facilities, explore if they could be required for certain events and for more information about grants. Commission Chair Rick Minor seconded.
Commissioner Brian Welch says he is nowhere near being ready to install a mask mandate in indoor public places.
Commissioner Dozier raised a motion to require masks in all county facilities, seconded by Minor. Commissioner Welch says he doesn’t currently support it.
A substitute motion asks for a move to further information and discussion on the matter to the agenda for their next meeting. Motion passed 5 to 1.