Broward mayor warns businesses must enforce face mask use or face consequences

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Newly elected Broward County Mayor Steve Geller is among the mayors in South Florida who have asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to enforce a universal mask mandate and to allow local governments to issue penalties to those who violate it.

Geller said Tuesday that his first order of business on Nov. 17 was to ask DeSantis to help make “meaningful enforcement action” available against Broward County residents “who are flouting societal norms and endangering their neighbors.”

DeSantis said on Monday that he won’t support a universal face mask mandate or another lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. He had already suspended the collection of fines and penalties associated with COVID-19.

Geller and other mayors in South Florida have said they are going to use their power to regulate businesses to ask business owners to enforce the use of face masks in their establishments or face citations and the possibility of an order to close.

“It is unclear how one can be considered pro-business without being in favor of mandatory mask-wearing,” Geller said. “If we don’t have a statewide order mandating mask-wearing, I fear that a broad business shutdown may soon become necessary.”

Geller is scheduled to talk to the Broward League of Cities on Thursday and to Broward County’s 31 mayors on Friday. He said his focus is on enforcement.

“We’re fighting a war now. We’re fighting a war against the pandemic,” Geller said. “Do you want to be patriotic? Do your patriotic duty, wear your mask.”

Letter to DeSantis

Nov. 16 memorandum

Geller’s Nov. 17 speech

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About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.