Pinellas mandatory mask ordinance now in effect; still some confusion

Coronavirus

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Pinellas County’s mandatory mask ordinance went into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and already there is a bit of confusion. Do I have to wear a mask when I work out? What about if I am going to church?

Attorney Charles Gallagher explains there are exceptions.

“If you’re working out, there is a carve-out. There are certain provisions for age, if you have kids under a certain age, for worship services and religion,” said Gallagher. “There’s going to be some flex in there, there’s certainly going to be question in there. Certainly a matter of first impression.”

At a county commission meeting on Tuesday, more than a hundred citizens called in to voice their opinions. Roughly sixty of the callers were for the mandatory mask ordinance, about fourty were against it.

Some callers cited medical reasons for not being able to wear a mask. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri explains, there is a provision in the ordinance that addresses that.

“If somebody says I can’t do it, I am claustrophobic, I get headaches from it. It makes me nauseous, that’s all you gotta say and you don’t have to produce documentation,” said Gualtieri. “It’s right in the ordinance. “

The sheriff adds that he hopes that people will comply with the ordinance rather than challenge it, as he doesn’t plan an enforcement detail.

“This is not going to be an enforcement centric situation. We’re not going to do it,” said Gualtieri. “And we’re certainly not going down the route of anything that is criminal “

But will that force businesses to enforce the ordinance? And if a business refuses to allow a customer in, if he or she doesn’t have a mask, will there be consequences? Gallagher believes some might be inclined to sue over principle.

Well, we tell clients all the time, all it takes to file a lawsuit is the filing fee,” said Gallagher. “So you’re probably going to have lawsuits. Are they going to be in good faith or legitimate, probably not.”

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