St. Augustine Beach switches from guidance to mandate for masks

Masks will now be mandatory in St. Augustine Beach.

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. – Masks will now be mandatory in St. Augustine Beach.

Just days after opting to strongly recommend people use face coverings rather than mandate them within the St. Augustine Beach city limits, the City Commission instead passed a mask mandate during Monday night’s regular commission meeting.

The vote was 3-2 with Commissioner Dylan Rumrell and Commissioner Maggie Kostka again declining to approve the resolution mandating face masks.

That same 3-2 vote wasn’t enough to pass the resolution during an emergency meeting last week because at emergency meetings a supermajority of 4-1 is required.

A simple majority of 3-2 was enough during Monday night’s regular meeting, however, meaning anyone in St. Augustine Beach will now be required to wear a face mask indoors or face a fine.

“I’m all for it. I have to tell you last week when we had all those people in town from New York and I’m sorry to call people out like that but it really got frightening,” said Cindy Dagevos, owner of Unique Coastal Gifts in St. Augustine Beach. “I’m 66 and my husband is 67, and I don’t want to come down with it.”

The news was still trickling out to business owners and residents in St. Augustine Beach on Tuesday. Many thought the city was still under the recommendation and not the mandate.

The ordinance includes an enforcement clause with fines of $50 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense.

It does not apply to one’s own home and includes exceptions for children younger than 2, people with underlying health conditions and those who are exercising, eating and drinking.

" I just don’t think the masks are that clean. I just think it’s totally out of control,” said another business owner who asked to remain anonymous because he’s concerned about losing business. “I’m really up in the air about it. I guess I don’t know enough about it because there’s so much going on in this country. I don’t know what to believe and what not to believe.”

The commission also passed an ordinance requiring facial coverings to be worn “duringg a declared epidemic emergency.”

Here’s where other counties in Northeast Florida stand on face masks.

Watch the commission’s meeting and vote below: