About half of the pedestrians observed on Delray Beach's Atlantic Avenue on the morning of Jan. 6 were not wearing masks. Employees at shops and restaurants appeared to be in compliance with Palm Beach County's mask ordinance. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star
By Jane Smith
Delray Beach city commissioners are hoping to break the Florida governor of his one-size-fits-all policy for cities and towns during the pandemic.
“We need to make sure our governor understands each city is different,” Mayor Shelly Petrolia said at the Jan. 5 City Commission meeting. “Not all Florida cities have the nightlife like Delray has.”
Other commissioners agreed.
“The vast majority of visitors are not wearing masks downtown. We are not allowed to fine people who are not wearing masks,” Commissioner Adam Frankel said at the meeting. “We need to get the word about what we are allowed to do and strike a balance between supporting our businesses with keeping our residents safe.”
The result was a resolution, signed Jan. 8 by interim City Manager Jennifer Alvarez, stating, “The City of Delray Beach is a unique, tourist friendly locale with a vibrant downtown that attracts visitors to its array of restaurants and nightlife located on Atlantic Avenue.”
The resolution urges Gov. Ron DeSantis “to rescind the provisions of Executive Order 20-244 preempting local governments from enacting COVID-19 legislation.”
COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is sometimes fatal. Wearing face masks and standing at least 6 feet apart help to limit the spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Delray Beach also sent the resolution to the Florida League of Cities and the county League of Cities.
At least two other South Florida locales are urging DeSantis to give them local control over COVID-19 mitigation.
Key West just passed an update of its face mask ordinance on Jan. 5. The update strengthened the city's face mask policy to be able to fine patrons for not wearing masks when not seated and eating in its restaurants.
In Miami Beach, police do not fine people who are not wearing face masks but hand them a free mask and a citation for violating the mask mandate.