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By Brian Ackley
City of Lake Wales 

City Commissioners Set to Officially Repeal Mask Mandate

Gov. Ron DeSantis Already Made it Unenforceable


Last updated 6/14/2021 at 2:12pm

Kobby Mendez

City officials are letting its ongoing "state of emergency" declaration regarding the COVID-19 pandemic expire.

In addition, Lake Wales commissioners are expected Tuesday to finish the process of repealing the city's mandatory mask resolution which was adopted last August.

The state of emergency declaration, which first went into effect March 13, 2020, allows the city access to additional resources both during the designated period, and for potentially recouping costs associated with the outbreak.

According to City Manager James Slaton, that designation was allowed to lapse on June 7, after being renewed monthly since the first one last spring.

Mayor Eugene Fultz and Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson said that even though the local mask law was no longer pertinent because of recent actions by Governor Ron DeSantis, they both felt it was important to officially remove the ordinance from the books nonetheless.

"He can't rescind our ordinance. He can render it unenforceable, but he can't take it off our books," Gibson noted. "We're the ones to do that."

He noted that voting to remove the ordinance would be in line with the parameters of the pandemic's spread when first approved last Aug. 18.

"It's a statement of policy as far as we're concerned" Gibson said. "I was really kind of proud of the fact we were one of the outfits that did it. I see from the COVID report, we are now under five percent, and that is what we were going to wait for before we rescinded it. I would just like to think we're in control of our own policy, but with it being below five percent, it's time to rescind it."

"I think we need to make it cleaner, that way there will be no question as to us getting rid of it and releasing people from it," "Fultz added.

Like all ordinances, it must go through two public readings and two public hearings before final adoption. The first reading and hearing came June 1, with a second reading and hearing set Tuesday, June 15.


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