Newberry claims less density deems mandatory face mask rule unnecessary

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe signed an Emergency Order on May 21st that mirrors the state’s current order and removes the requirement of wearing a face mask in city limits.

Immediately, the local Ace Hardware switched the marquee out front from “Masks required for entry starting 5/4” to “Masks optional but strongly encouraged.” 

The order claims that Alachua County’s Emergency Order is unconstitutional even though a judge on May 21st denied the request for an emergency injunction motion that challenged making face mask wearing mandatory in Alachua County.

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According to the County’s statement, “Cities may issue orders that are more strict then (than) the County orders, but not more lenient.”

The Newberry Emergency Order claims that the County’s order “Deprives citizens of civil liberties.

According to Newberry’s Emergency Order, “the language in the County’s First Amendment to Emergency Order 20-25 is unconstitutionally vague and therefore unenforceable. The Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment as applied to the states pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment protects citizens from unconstitutionally vague laws.

“The Order is arbitrary and capricious as there are no fixed standards for applying the Order. Without clear fixed standards, the Order allows for arbitrary enforcement because it does not meaningfully limit who the police can cite, fine and/or arrest.

“The City Commission has serious concerns regarding the County’s Emergency Orders, including constitutional deficiencies, liberty interests, the Counties (sic) failure to consult the other municipalities within the County prior to reconsidering mandatory face masks and chaos and confusion caused by inconsistent and conflicting messages to the citizens.

Newberry claims that rural areas do not need to enforce face mask rules.

“The mandatory face mask provisions are unnecessary within the City of Newberry as the City is less densely populated than the City of Gainesville and other areas within the County,” the Order states.

Mayor Marlowe shared the news about the City’s Order on his official Facebook page.

“Today, I signed the resolution which places the City of Newberry under the same emergency order as the Governor. This order is now the law inside the City of Newberry.

We are aware of the court’s decision today to deny an injunction on the mask mandate. We are also aware that part of the County attorney’s public argument today was that the data coming from Governor Ron DeSantis is untrustworthy, which is the reason and basis for the County’s stricter regulations.

It is this type of political intrusion into what should be a purely scientific conversation that Newberry seeks to protect our citizens from. We do not want to be a part of this level of division and conspiracy theory politics.

Again, Newberry will follow and comply with the Governor’s order. We are not seeking to reopen everything immediately. We are seeking a calm, stable, and safe response to an already tense and dangerous situation, and we are seeking the clarity of government structure that ensures us that our County Commission represents all of the Cities in this County equally and has not been co-opted by one municipality.

I would continue to urge citizens to wear a mask in places where they can not socially distance if their health allows them to do so. And, I would urge all the parties involved in this to work towards unity. When we work together, truly listening and valuing all the voices, we can achieve great things.”

According to the Florida COVID-19 Dashboard reported by the Florida Health Department, as of May 22, there have been 19 positive test results recorded in Newberry. Click here to follow case reports in Florida.

COVID-19 cases for Newberry

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