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Ocala ordinance relies on businesses to encourage mask wearing indoors

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Kevin Sheilly, president and CEO of the Ocala-Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, told the Ocala City Council he approved of their goal to encourage mask wearing but objected to making businesses the target of the ordinance.

The Ocala City Council approved a mask ordinance Tuesday evening requiring face coverings indoors.

The vote came on a day when Marion County reported a record 12 deaths from the coronavirus.

The mandate applies, not to individuals, but to businesses, churches and government offices.

They must require workers to wear masks. They also must post signs, make announcements and make reasonable requests to visitors who aren’t wearing one.

There are exceptions for small children, certain health conditions and religious objections.

As an emergency ordinance, it required approval from four of five councilmen. A three-to-two split sank a similar ordinance two weeks ago.

The swing vote, Councilman Brent Malever, said they needed to do something to help.

“Today I got calls from six different people that have the virus,” he said, “and they are very close friends of mine. And, uh, it just shocked me.”

The ordinance was offered by Councilman Matthew Wardell. It passed 4-to-1.

Council President Jay Musleh says he supports wearing masks but opposes the idea of a mandate.

“I didn’t support your ordinance,” he told Wardell during the meeting, “but I support what it asks people to do. Put a mask on and wear it if you’re going to be inside and you can’t social distance.”

The order takes effect after the mayor signs it or after 10 days without a veto.

In a text message Tuesday night, Mayor Kent Guinn said he has not decided about the veto and wants to hear from people.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.