With no mandate from Manatee County, Holmes Beach, Anna Maria adopt mask ordinances

Manatee County commissioners spent two days and several hours discussing face masks but did not pass a mandate requiring them Thursday. But two cities within the county decided to pass their own ordinances in hopes of preventing the further spread of COVID-19.

The city of Holmes Beach, located on Anna Maria Island, voted unanimously Thursday afternoon for mandatory facemasks, when people cannot be socially distant. Later Thursday evening, the city of Anna Maria passed a similar rule.

There has been a growing concern on the island as visitors pack the beaches and rental properties.

Residents reported visitors not wearing masks for following social distancing guidelines inside grocery stores and other businesses. Wanting to keep residents and workers safe, the city commissions approved emergency ordinances.

Everyone must wear a mask indoors when they cannot be socially distant.

In Holmes Beach, non-compliance will result in a $250 fine and, officials catch you a second time, that fine will go up to $500. There are exceptions for folks with disabilities or health issues and while people are eating or drinking in a restaurant.

In Anna Maria, the fine is $50 and the ordinance excludes when people are seated and eating at restaurants, or people sitting in offices.

"Maybe this will put a little wind under their sails. Thank you, everyone. Thanks for standing up for our people and each other. It's important for us to do what we can to protect each other and hopefully we will be able to beat this virus," City of Holmes Beach Vice Mayor Jim Kihm said.

Holmes Beach code enforcement and police will enforce their city's ordinance, which will begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 28.

Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said in a statement Thursday evening he would sign the ordinance Friday, but did not say when it would go into effect.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know

AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com

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