Volusia County dodges face mask mandate, allows beaches to remain open despite COVID-19 spike

Daytona Beach to require masks

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – The Volusia County Council continues to recommend rather than enforce a mask mandate in the county, however, the city of Daytona Beach now requires residents and visitors to wear masks when inside public places.

“I ask the public who’s listening to me that you give me the same courtesy that I’m giving you and wear a mask,” said council member Barbara Girtman.

Girtman voiced her opinion on wearing masks during Tuesday’s council meeting and got clarification that the council is pushing to educate residents.

“We really need to educate and communicate more than we need to making things mandatory. But, people need to understand they should wear a mask. It’s the right thing to do if you’re within six feet of someone, especially if you’re inside,” said county manager George Recktenwald.

The county launched its “Step Up Volusia” campaign on Monday that includes a website showing residents and public officials following CDC guidelines. The county also invested in educational billboards and is distributing personal protection equipment to residents and businesses. But, even the campaign has some residents concerned.

“‘Step Up Volusia’ could encourage the public to vilify, out-shame and harass unmask people. My sincere request to the officials of Step Up Volusia and the retailers, please add messaging to the campaign to explain that some people can not safely wear a mask,” Peggy Moulton-Abbott said.

Another hot topic discussed was Volusia County beaches. County leaders decided to keep beaches open days after officials in South Florida closed theirs to try and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Council officials said the county invested in more than 140 sandwich boards to remind beachgoers to social distance and continue using conservation poles to space out cars.

Recktenwald also urged visitors to use hotel pools.

“There’s no reason to crowd. They should spread out. We will also be putting our messaging out there. We’ll be flying banner planes. Again, we want people to enjoy the beach but there is room to social distance and they should do that,” he said.

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