St. Augustine Beach decides against mandating masks

File photo (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) (Chris O'Meara, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. – Masks are not mandatory in St. Augustine Beach.

Instead, the city of St. Augustine Beach is strongly recommending people use face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday night, the commissioners met in an emergency meeting to discuss enforcing face coverings in the town.

Enforcement was the main concern for the commissioners.

Masks are not mandatory in St. Augustine Beach.

There were a couple of commissioners that did not agree with fining people for wearing masks, which lead to face coverings only being strongly recommended.

With the rising number of cases, and this being a holiday weekend, many have concerns.

Many people left Thursday night’s emergency meeting in St. Augustine Beach upset that masks won’t be mandatory.

“I’m a registered nurse and I’m trying to educate the public on the importance of wearing masks and I’m really saddened,” said Janine Rainville.

“I’m scared that we’re going to have the problems that South Florida is having,” said Hester Longstreet.

The commissioners voted 3 to 2 in favor of making masks mandatory. Despite the majority in favor, the city attorney said they needed a fourth person to vote yes to enforce the recommendation.

Commissioner Dylan Rumrell wouldn’t back down and was against imposing fines for not wearing masks.

Commission Maggie Kostkasaid said there’s already state and national regulations encouraging masks.

The commission ultimately decided to not make masks mandatory, but that people should wear them, but there won’t be any legal enforcement.

Tom Reynolds said he agrees with the decision because he feels private businesses shouldn’t have to enforce masks.

“It’s just like a dress code. A private business should make that decision for themselves,” Reynolds said.

The commissioners who voted no said they are not against masks they just weren’t in favor of enforcement.