DEBARY, Fla -- After hearing from mask foes and supporters, the DeBary City Council on Wednesday approved a no-penalty resolution urging people to voluntarily cover their faces in public to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

What You Need To Know

  • Most council members oppose mandatory mask rules

  • DeBary's resolution does not allow fines against violators

  • Volusia residents can get free masks at libraries Thursday

The resolution, approved in a 4-1 vote with Erika Benfield dissenting, completes a patchwork of city mask policies stitched together in recent weeks in southwest Volusia County amid a heated, national debate about masks in a pandemic.

Benfield, a Republican candidate for State House 27, echoed previous concerns about “government overreach.”

Two nearby cities, DeLand and Orange City, approved ordinances carrying the power to issue fines for violators. Volusia’s most populous city, Deltona, approved a resolution similar to DeBary’s on July 7.

The Volusia County Council opted against mandatory mask rules, instead supporting a public-awareness campaign called Step Up Volusia that includes widespread distribution of free masks.

Volusia residents can pick up free face masks at libraries on Thursday.

In DeBary, a majority of City Council members on July 1 voiced opposition to a mandatory face-covering ordinance, with Benfield, Stephen Bacon and Phyllis Butlein siding with mask foes.

Mayor Karen Chasez, along with City Manager Carmen Rosamonda, revisited the issue Wednesday with a measure urging voluntary compliance.

Council member Patricia Stevenson wanted a stronger face-covering policy.

“It’s spineless,” Stevenson said. “and I don’t think it’s going to do any good.”

During the council's public comment period, former DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia and another member of the public urged DeBary City Council members to pass a tougher mask rule. Other speakers denounced masks, saying mandatory face-covering laws are unconstitutional.

Lawsuits have been filed against certain governments, including Orange County, that passed mandatory mask rules.

The measure approved by DeBary says everyone in the city is "strongly encouraged, in the absence of social distancing, to wear a face covering in any indoor location other than inside a home or residence." 

It also says health officials support face coverings to "slow the spread of COVID-19."

DeBary will put up banners with the Step Up Volusia message to remind everyone about face masks.