Nassau County commissioners approve mask mandate

File photo taken June 26, 2020.

YULEE, Fla. – At an emergency meeting Thursday, Nassau County’s Board of Commissioners approved an executive order mandating face coverings at all indoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible.

It goes into effect at 7 a.m. Friday and will last for 30 days.

Executive Order No 16 reads:

The order does provide exemptions for public safety and law enforcement personnel because their personal protective gear is governed by their agencies.

One day earlier, commissioners met for their scheduled meeting to consider issuing an extension of the county’s state of emergency. There was no mask item listed on the agenda for the meeting, but commissioners can bring any relevant business forward at the meeting and masks were discussed, both in public comments and by commissioners.

After consulting with the director of the Nassau County Health Department, commissioners reviewed the mask requirement of Martin County but postponed a vote on the issue, saying they needed more time to make a decision.

County Manager Mike Mullin questioned how, without a mandatory mask mandate, businesses can keep their employees and customers safe from people from the public who come in not wearing masks. He said he doesn’t want to see a burden placed on local businesses to try and enforce it on their own.

Earlier this week, a St. Johns County commissioner added a discussion of a mask mandate to their special meeting on Tuesday. His motion failed to get a second or go to a vote.

Last Friday, the city of St. Augustine passed a mask mandate for inside buildings open to the public where people cannot socially distance. The city of St. Augustine Beach has set a special meeting for 5 p.m. Thursday to discuss a possible rule in that community.

As of late, Nassau County has increased its measures to enforce coronavirus precautions. Last week, News4Jax was there as the County and Fernandina Beach Code Enforcement visited businesses to check if CDC and mask recommendations are being followed.

Emergency Manager Greg Foster said there’s a surge in the percent of positive test results in Nassau not just because of an increase in access to testing, but because of a decrease in actions taken to prevent community transmission and because some people no longer adhered to CDC guidelines.

About the Authors:

Multi-media journalist