In a 4-1 vote during Monday’s virtual meeting of the Osceola County Board of Commissioners, the board passed a motion which will add penalties for non-compliance of the county’s already existing face covering mandate.
With the Florida Department of health reporting a continued surge of positive COVID-19 cases in the county, the board discussed the need for further measures along with the challenges that exist with the adding of penalties to the existing mandate which went into place April 13, 2020.
Commissioner Cheryl Grieb shared her concerned with the pressure that this might add to the businesses in the county, while District 3 Commissioner Brandon Arrington cited the high unemployment in the county and his belief that something had to be done to get businesses flourishing again and people back to work. District 1 Commissioner Peggy Choudhry expressed concerns she had whether there was a warning phase to the penalties or whether a fine of $25 would take place after the first offense.
The question of who would enforce the new penalties came up of course, and Commissioner Janer stated that enforcement would be handled by Code Enforcement, the Osceola Sheriff’s Office, and local police departments.
That point of putting pressure on business was echoed by Commissioner Grieb as well, causing Chairperson Viviana Janer to ask the county attorney to remove that portion of the new ordinance and ensure that there would be a warning for the first violation, followed by a $25 fine for the next violation, and then a $50 fine for the third violation. There will be no criminal penalties handed out for non-compliance.
Commissioner Fred Hawkins was the lone vote against and while speaking stated he will wear a mask when going into a store that requires it out of respect, but went on to say, ” I do not think we as a government should force people to wear a mask.”
Hawkins also shared before the motion was put to a vote by Chairperson Janer, “If someone cannot wear a mask because of health reasons, and they get approached by somebody, why should they have to disclose that they have a health issue? I think that’s a violation of their HIPPA rights.
We will update this article as more details become available.