Mayor Curry says he won’t mandate face masks in Jacksonville

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry gives an update on the city's COVID-19 response. (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Monday he does not plan to issue mandatory face mask requirements despite rising COVID-19 cases in Duval County and calls from residents.

“I do not think that’s a prudent action to take,” Curry said. “We do not need to have law enforcement out in public enforcing this. It’s not an efficient use of resources and we’re not going to prosecute people, start prosecuting people, ticketing people and arresting people because they choose not to wear a mask."

Curry went on to ask residents to wear a mask if they can’t be socially distant.

“Wearing a mask is not a political statement. It’s about protecting yourself and your loved ones and your neighbors,” Curry said. “I wear my mask when I’m in a grocery store, gas station or other places where I can’t be socially distant, and I encourage everyone else to do the responsible thing and do the same.”

The calls for Curry to make face coverings mandatory come as most major Florida cities now require wearing face masks in public. A mandatory non-negotiable order is now in place for residents in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Orange County. The measures were implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as health officials have reported record-breaking spikes in the number of cases coming in from medical centers and testing sites in recent weeks.

On Monday, Florida surpassed 100,000 reported COVID-19 cases. A one-day record of more than 4,000 new COVID-19 cases was reported Saturday.

Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending that everyone wears a face mask in public in April, there is no federal mandate requiring people to do so.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week that he also will not face coverings statewide, citing similar reasons referenced by Curry on Monday.

When asked about the Republican National Convention coming to Jacksonville in August, Curry said, “Whatever public health precautions and actions that need to be taken at that time given the environment we are in, will be taken.”

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Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.