Calling it a “radical infringement” of constitutional rights, the head of the Republican Party in Leon County teamed with a conservative state representative Thursday to challenge a local ordinance requiring people to wear face coverings to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“I don’t have a problem with masks. I have a problem with government mandating action in our private lives,” Evan Power, a Tallahassee lobbyist who is the chairman of the Leon County Republican Executive Committee, told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview.
The lawsuit illustrates the partisan flashpoint created by face masks, despite the recommendations of public health officials in Florida and throughout the nation who say face coverings can reduce the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
President Donald Trump has refused to wear a face covering and his supporters have embraced his stance, branding masks not as a public health necessity but as a government intrusion into personal liberties.
“Under emergency orders, we walk a fine line between what’s right and what’s wrong in intruding in people’s lives,” Power said.
Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican lawyer from Howey-in-the-Hills, is representing Power in the challenge to the ordinance, unanimously approved by the Leon County Commission during an emergency meeting on Tuesday.
In a telephone interview, Sabatini denied that the lawsuit had political overtones.
“It’s a legal case,” he said. “I don’t really think this is a real emergency at this point.”The county mask mandate excludes “business owners, managers, and employees who are in an area of a business establishment that is not open to customers, patrons, or the public, provided that six feet of distance exists between persons.”
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