BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Could local municipalities instruct police to charge blatant non-mask wearers with “reckless endangerment” as an answer to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ demand that no fines be issued for mask violators? Possibly, at least according to several sources reaching out to BocaNewsNow.com.
Mike Edmonson, spokesperson for State’s Attorney Dave Aronberg, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but those familiar with the matter say it’s not impossible. It’s unclear if Aronberg, who speaks aggressively about mask enforcement on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” supports such a move. His office would presumably need to sign off on the prosecution of mask violators in Palm Beach County. Using Florida language, such a charge could also be recorded as “culpable negligence.”
“The very definition of reckless endangerment is taking part in an act that is likely to lead death or grievous bodily harm. That’s the very act people who refuse to wear masks are committing,” said a source. “It’s really not a stretch. If you don’t wear a mask, spread COVID, and someone dies, it’s game over.”
Officials from local municipalities, as well as Palm Beach County itself, are again facing masking issues now that Gov. DeSantis said that any individual masking orders can not be enforced with fines. The catch: businesses can still be fined if customers aren’t wearing masks, but customers themselves can’t be fined.
There are multiple reports of problems at restaurants in the hours after DeSantis brought Florida to Phase 3, with people believing it meant mask mandates were eliminated. They weren’t. The problem was so prevalent that the Palm Beach County School District initiated a robocall of more than 180,000 homes to remind students and parents that masks are required on all school district property.
“It absurd,” said a restaurant worker to BocaNewsNow.com over the weekend. “We’re trying to hard to survive, and now the Governor is making it very difficult to tell customers they have to wear masks while waiting for food. What will it do for my business if it becomes public that someone caught COVID and died after eating here? The Governor just guaranteed that there’s no recourse for bad behavior. He may have thought he was being helpful. He wasn’t.”
While charging a mask violator with a felony may be considered overboard, a law enforcement source suggested that it isn’t.
“It might be a stretch to charge someone with reckless endangerment for not wearing a mask, but if you think about it, it really isn’t. If someone waves a knife, shoots a gun, or coughs in your face while being infected with COVID, it’s reckless and dangerous. I’d like to see how it plays out in court.”
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