Robinson: Masks, Lockdowns and ‘Confusion’

by Jeremy Morrison, Inweekly

With COVID cases in the area on the increase, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson held a press conference on Thursday urging people to wear masks to help curb coronavirus’s spread.

“We ask you to work with us, and we will only ask you to take these actions when we get to a certain point, and we need to all be working about this together,” Robinson said.

The mayor also addressed address some “confusion” stemming from remarks he made on Monday. He declined to rule out a community lockdown if conditions warranted such action, which led to WEAR 3 reporting the mayor was considering one.

“I should have given a better answer than I did,” he said. “I simply said no, because we don’t know what local conditions will be, and if local conditions became 5,000 hospitalizations, we might have to consider something different.”

Robinson said that he wanted to avoid any lockdown specter but that wearing masks was critical in negating the need for any further action.

He said, “We want to keep businesses open to where people keep their jobs, and we believe all of this is accomplishable if we do the right thing.”

The city has had a mask ordinance in place since a COVID spike during the summer. Mayor Robinson pushed for dropping the mandate in September, reasoning that it should be used again as a management tool when cases increased, but the Pensacola City Council elected to leave the order in place.

While the city had few compliance issues during the summer spike, the mayor noted that now they are encountering some resistance.

“Today, we’re having harder and harder and more difficult times dealing with businesses fully instituting the mask ordinance,” Robinson said, attributing this to an element of burnout. “I get that. I understand we’re fully under mask fatigue.”

The mayor noted that state-level directives from Governor Ron DeSantis, which severely limit a local municipality’s ability to declare and enforce something like a mask mandate, had also created “confusion” and played a part in the city encountering resistance to the order.

“At the end of the day, I would advise him to allow local governments to make the right decision based on their local conditions,” Robinson said.

Optimistically, Mayor Robinson pointed toward a bright horizon and said he was praying an effective vaccine would soon land on the scene. He also said that if local hospitalization numbers fell below 50, the city would reassess its current mandate requiring masks in public businesses.

“If we come to a point where we can get hospitalizations down, we are absolutely looking at ways we can relax and be able to come forward. We understand that all of you are tired of dealing with this.”

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2 thoughts on “Robinson: Masks, Lockdowns and ‘Confusion’

  1. ‘If local conditions become 5,000 hospitalization’???? Does the mayor have any clue what he’s talking about? He just needs to step back and do ceremonial stuff, it’s obvious that he has no grasp on reality. If he were to shut down the city again it would be our death knell after the initial shutdown and two hurricanes.

  2. The city should send some of its 163 police officers, and other 800+ city employees, out to visit local businesses “in” the city to ensure that they “all” have signs at their entrances advising customers of the mask ordinance. Send out the firefighters, everyone likes them.
    Businesses should have masks available for customers even if just sitting on a table for those who show up without one like thee many people visiting from out-of-state. At first, every business seemed to have a sign in the window but many are now gone. The mask ordinance should be amended to require businesses to insist its customers wear masks, i.e. “no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service.” There is currently no specific legal requirement for businesses to do that, an oversight by whoever drafted the ordinance. There should be a penalty for “businesses” that ignore the mask ordinance to include a fine and suspension of a businesses’ “city” business license, city businesses required to have Business Tax Receipts from both the county “and” the city. The threat of a business being shut down for a while should motivate business owners to care about public health. I get out every day to a lot of different stores to do the shopping. I was surprised that initial compliance with the mask ordinance was nearly complete. Because many businesses do not know that they are not “in” the city, many assuming that all of “Pensacola” is the same (it is not), many non-city businesses also had sign ordinance signs at their entrance too. My wife gets her hair done at a saloon just outside of the city limit but she has to wear a mask because they think that everyone in “Pensacola” – with a Pensacola mailing address – is subject to the mask ordinance. Legally wrong but good for public health. Then Robinson began undercutting the mask ordinance perhaps under pressure from Tallahassee. During a recent trip to Walmart on Creighton Road, I counted a dozen people without masks. (All three Pensacola Firefighters shopping for food in Walmart were wearing masks.) The situation in Publix on 9th Avenue is bad. Same at the Winn Dixie. (“Everyone” wears a mask in Fresh Market.) Those are just the people I saw. Store personnel don’t really know what to do because they think the mask ordinance has been repealed because it is not being enforced and many businesses have taken down their signs saying that masks are required by city law “in” the city limit. At present, there is nothing to stop the city from issuing citations for the violation of the mask ordinance (a form of public shaming) even if the enforceability of the penalties is unclear. I have read Governor DeSantis’ Executive Orders 20-244, 20-92 (cited in 20-244) and 20-91 (cited in 20-91). Section 4 in EO 20-244 is very poorly written but there is nothing in it that makes a case the city’s mask ordinance is “inconsistent” with EO 20-92 (or EO 20-91) as he alleges. Let him prove it. The city should file a lawsuit and make DeSantis prove in court that mask wearing in city business to keep them open and keep people alive is a bad thing. Robinson may be afraid to do it but the city council – the “governing body” of the city’s municipal corporation on which the mayor does not serve – can at any time vote to direct the city attorney to file the lawsuit. Four new members joining the council next week may give the council some much needed political backbone to take Robinson to task for his neglect of duties. Shifting blame is the city hall way but that is now killing citizens.

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