Updated July 3, 2020 – ANNA MARIA – Mayor Dan Murphy and the Anna Maria City Commission have extended the city’s mandatory mask order for another seven days.
The emergency mask order originally enacted on June 25 as City Order #33 was amended during a special commission meeting Thursday morning. The amended order, City Order #36, is now posted at the city website.
Similar to the original mask order, the amended and extended order only applies to certain indoor places. But City Order #36 also includes new recommendations regarding outdoor waiting areas and vacation rentals.
“Every person working, living, visiting or doing business in the city of Anna Maria shall wear a face covering in any indoor location, other than their home or residence, when not maintaining social distancing from other persons, excluding family members or companions,” the amended order says.
The order lists the following exceptions:
- Children under the age of two years;
- People for whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition;
- People working in a business or profession who do not have interactions with other people;
- People working in an office when all interactions with others are done with social distancing as recommended by the CDC;
- People eating and/or drinking at a restaurant; provided, however, that face coverings must otherwise be worn in restaurants.
City Order #36 includes new language that says, “Businesses are requested to strongly encourage face coverings and social distancing for customers and persons waiting in line outdoors for service. Also, vacation rental owners and management companies are requested to give out informational material, such as a copy of this order, to each of their vacation rental customers upon check-in.”
A violation of the mask order is punishable by a code enforcement citation that carries a $50 fine per violation. During Thursday’s meeting, Murphy said no citations had been issued for mask violations to date and the city had not received any complaints about non-compliance.
When Thursday’s discussion began, Murphy addressed expanding the order to include outdoor public spaces.
“It’s very difficult for me to tell you that you have to stay 6 feet away from your husband or your wife or your child while you’re on vacation outdoors in the state of Florida. I think it would be nice if everybody wore face masks, but I don’t think we can infringe upon people’s personal rights that much. And I know we can’t enforce it. I think it’s going too far,” Murphy said.
Outdoor waiting areas
The new language regarding outdoor waiting areas arose from concerns raised by commissioners Jon Crane and Mark Short, based on what they’ve seen outside some restaurants and other food establishments, including ice cream shops.
Crane suggested expanding the mask order to include outdoor waiting areas, but the commission did not go that far.
Commissioner Joe Muscatello asked if the city was going to encourage that masks be worn on the City Pier. The commission did not address the pier in its amended mask order, but Murphy said free masks are available at the pier entryway when the pier is open.
Commissioner Amy Tripp agreed with Crane and Short, but said enforcement of the outdoor waiting areas would be challenging. She recommended calling on business owners and patrons to use common sense instead.
Muscatello shared feedback he received from business owners.
“They don’t want to see a shutdown and they would go along with anything we came up with that was helpful,” he said.
Muscatello also provided personal perspective as a city resident.
“We seem to be so focused on the tourists. I think our first priority ought to be the residents. I pay a hell of a lot of property taxes to live here and I’m afraid to go to my own beach. We are here to serve the 1,500 people who live here and not the 40,000 people who come here to visit. I feel like a prisoner in my own home,” he said.
Commission Chair Carol Carter suggested the non-binding language regarding outdoor waiting areas. She said face coverings in waiting areas not only protect patrons, but they protect the employees too.
“When we heard about places that closed, it’s been because an employee has shown signs of being infected with COVID,” Short added.
Regarding outdoor waiting areas, Murphy said, “The message should be we don’t want to legislate something – and that we will if we have to. The onus is at the point of contact at the restaurant itself to make sure this is done, not city hall.”
Under the local state of emergency, Murphy has the authority to extend the mask order every seven days without calling a special commission meeting to do so.
Murphy said the updated mask order would be emailed to business owners and vacation rental owners and agents.
To assist businesses, the city is offering free signs that reference the mask order. To request those signs email email@example.com.