HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – Lake County State Republic, GOP Anthony Sabatini, confused a few cages during his first term in the United States House of Representatives.
For the past week, he was a one-man army in an effort to overturn face mask ordinances recently approved in the Sunshine State.
What you need to know
- Sabatini calls regulations “criminalizing people who disagree”
- Lawsuit filed on behalf of Plant City farmer Eric Gonyon
- Governor DeSantis continues to oppose the state-wide mandate on face coverings
- More coronavirus stories
Sabatini’s latest lawsuit is against Hillsborough County, according to the ordinance passed last week by the Emergency Policy Group, which states that all indoor site managers require all persons entering their company to wear face masks.
Sabatini says he has no problem with people wearing masks, especially the most vulnerable.
“I don’t want it to be political,” he said shortly before the formal news conference announcing that the lawsuit was taking place in Hillsborough County Court on Monday. “Unfortunately, power-hungry local government politicians have turned it into a political issue by attempting to criminalize people who disagree with them.”
“The truth is, everyone knows what risk tolerance they should have,” he continued. “If you’re part of the small but vulnerable Florida population who should probably wear a mask, then of course you should consider wearing a mask and taking social distance. When you pass laws and criminalize anyone who disagrees with you, that’s just out of control – that’s just out of control. ‘
Impose a burden on entrepreneurs?
As COVID-19 broadcasts exploded in recent weeks, Hillsborough County Health Director Doug Holt said last week that wearing masks is the best measure to reduce the massive wave of COVID infections. In addition, an analysis was collected by The Lancet published this month showed that wearing masks significantly reduces the risk of viral transmission.
However, like so many in America, wearing masks in the COVID era has become a partisan problem.
Democrats and those who support democratically say earlier than republicans and republican leaners that they wore a mask in person or most of the time last month – 76 percent versus 53 percent – according to a Pew Research survey conducted June 4-10, 2020.
Sabatini has filed the lawsuit against Hillsborough County on behalf of Plant City family farmer Eric Gonyon. Gonyon says that in the COVID-19 era, he did the right things as a responsible business owner, such as buying additional cleaning products and buying face-covering plates.
Gonyon said the Emergency Policy Group’s mandate is another burden.
“Another headache, another hardship, and it’s another expense,” he said. “The province is now placing business owners in a position of authority that we do not have, are not trained, prepared and are utterly unsuitable to deal with.”
Like Sabatini, Gonyon says it’s not about wearing masks he has a problem with.
“But who am I as an entrepreneur to tell people what to do? I shouldn’t be doing it. That’s not my job, ”he says.
Local government responsibility or overreach?
The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group attempted to pass a regulation in April that required masks. However, strong public opposition forced the group not to approve the proposal at the time.
But last week, when COVID cases exploded in Hillsborough County, the EPG passed the measure for masks by 5-3 votes.
Lawyer KrisAnne Hall, who also works on behalf of Gonyon, calls it an overreach from the government.
“It is not the government’s responsibility, nor the government’s duty, to tell the individual how to live their lives, how to care for their families, and to let us be chosen,” said Hall.
An employee of Hillsborough County Commission chairman Les Miller, who was a leading voice pushing for the Board of County Commissioners’ mandate, said he was aware of the lawsuit, but said that neither he nor the rest of the council could comment on pending a lawsuit.
More than a dozen counties and even more municipalities have passed mask ordinances, but Governor Ron DeSantis has opposed the creation of a national mandate.