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Masks still mandated, curfew continues in Gadsden County

The Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners held an emergency meeting on Friday, September 25 to vote on the return of public meetings and approve the renewal of the county resolution in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A plan from the county was presented to the commissioners, which gave guidelines on how public meetings can resume.

These guidelines include restrictions, such as limiting the number of citizens who will be allowed to attend the county commission meetings.

One citizen will be allowed in the chamber at a time and will be allowed three minutes to speak.

Five citizens would be allowed to wait outside the board’s meeting chamber while maintaining proper social distancing until they are called into the chamber to speak.

The wearing of masks will continue to be required by all who attend the meetings.

All commissioners will be present at the meeting, ending the recent practice of remote attendance that some commissioners have employed.

Hand sanitizer will be at every entrance and masks will be provided if needed.

Citizens are encouraged to contact the county in order to schedule a time to be heard by the commissioners at a particular meeting.

Commissioners Brenda Holt and Sherrie Taylor supported this plan, along with Chairman Anthony Viegbesie.

Commissioner Gene Morgan requested that more citizens be allowed inside the chamber at one time.

A motion to pass the current plan (without Commissioner Morgan’s addition request) was made by Holt and passed 3-1 with Morgan voting “no.”

The board then discussed the approval of a county resolution, which would renew the mandated use of masks and a county-wide curfew of 9 p.m.

While the curfew is one of the more stringent in the state, representatives with the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office have voiced their support for the curfew, citing recent issues with gatherings and adding that the curfew has helped curb other crime in the community.

Morgan moved to approve the proposal with changes including that masks be strongly recommended, rather than being required. Morgan’s motion also eliminated the county-wide curfew.

This motion died without a second.

Recent statements from Governor DeSantis indicate his intention to order that restaurants be able to open more and more throughout the state. This order would preempt any restriction the board makes in its resolution guidelines.

Holt moved to approve the resolution with the addition of a statement saying that anything stated in the resolution that is preempted by DeSantis would no longer apply.

This motion passed 3-1 with Morgan offering the lone dissenting vote.