Alachua County Commission reverses decision to eliminate requiring face masks

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Alachua County Commission is backtracking their decision to end their ordinance requiring the use of face masks in public spaces.

Earlier today, the commission voted 3-2 to stop requiring residents to wear face masks and switch businesses' occupancies.

Then, the county commission hosted a virtual meeting with the Gainesville City Commission in a joint meeting at 3 p.m.

In the meeting, various city commissioners expressed their disappointment in the county's decision.

"Every day, the federal government and the state government are actively trying to kill people, but I felt like this was really a safe haven for us," City Commissioner Gail Johnson said. "We were making better decisions for the people that live here and therefore I just felt a little bit more safe."

"There are many people in the state dying and they travel through Alachua County," said City Commissioner David Arreola. "Alachua County is still a very very busy county."

Arreola said he thinks the progress made in flattening the curve is the reason behind the county commission wanting to loosen restrictions in their emergency order.

He urged them to resist that inclination.

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said, "It's the gas station worker, the fast food worker, the grocery store worker that truly doesn't have a choice."

After hearing these remarks and more, the county commission voted 4-1 to keep Sunday's emergency order with a few changes.

This means residents will still be required to wear face masks and businesses can continue operating at 50 percent capacity.

There will no longer be a criminal penalty for disobeying the county's order.

Pool halls and bowling alleys can reopen, but they cannot serve alcohol.
Noon Update:

In a 3 to 2 vote, the Alachua County Commission decided to end their ordinance requiring the use of face masks in public spaces in the county.

Commissioners Byerly, Cornell, and Chestnut voted to eliminate the ordinance, while Commissioners Warren and Chairman Hutchinson voted to keep it in place.

On May 1, the Commission had voted to enact an ordinance requiring face coverings in interior public spaces, like businesses. The order came shortly after the Governor announced the phased reopening of the State.

According to the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, no citations have been issued for lack of facial coverings.