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“I felt it was the least we could do”: Alachua County commissioners vote to implement a mask mandate

Alachua County commissioners voted to draft an emergency order requiring masks.
Alachua County commissioners voted to draft an emergency order requiring masks.(WCJB)
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 11:35 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Alachua County commissioners voted to draft an emergency order requiring masks. This decision comes one day after Alachua County schools defied Gov. Ron DeSantis over face masks. The order will last for a week and will need to be re-evaluated, and can be extended.

“I felt it was the least we could do,” said District 3 County Commissioner Anna Prizzia.

Commissioners voted 4-0 with Commissioner Chestnut absent to create the emergency order that would require masks countywide. Prizzia initially proposed the idea of a mask mandate on Tuesday. One day later, the commission made the decision to move forward with the idea.

“We are going to review it every 7-days based on the data and information we have and only keep it on as long as we absolutely have to,” explained Prizzia.

RELATED STORY: Alachua County commissioners to consider mask mandate countywide, despite Gov. DeSantis’ order

Everyone over the age of 2 in an indoor facility with two or more people will have to wear a mask. However, if you are just with family, then you will not have to wear a mask. Chair of the commission Ken Cornell said they are only doing 7-days at a time because that is what can be done under the law.

“The statute limits us to a 7-day order that then may be renewed by a majority of the board for up to 42 days in total,” explained Cornell. “What we have taken is an approach of narrowly tailoring our order to provide the most effective means to hopefully mitigate the spread in the first 7-days, and we will look at it again in a week.”

The district 3 commissioner said county leaders are listening to Gov. DeSantis and following his order.

“We followed the guidelines that were necessary to protect our own community,” explained the Prizzia.

RELATED STORY: “We are standing for what is right”: Alachua County School Board members vote to extend mask mandate

Gov. DeSantis has the authority to invalidate the order, but both Prizzia and Cornell have a message for him.

“I wish you wouldn’t play politics with the health and safety of our community. We may have to see you in court,” said Prizzia.

“Listen to our local scientists, listen to our local medical experts, and support our order,” explained Cornell.

RELATED STORY: Alachua County commissioners impose mask mandate again

There are ADA and medical exceptions to the mandate. Code enforcement will be monitoring, and the penalty is a civil citation process. It has to be drafted and go through a legal review before it can be signed. Commissioners are aiming to have the order in place by 5 p.m. on Thursday.

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