NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Narragansett Town Council President Matthew Mannix has withdrawn his resolution that would authorize the town’s police department to not enforce Gov. Gina Raimondo’s coronavirus-related executive orders.
Mannix planned to introduce the resolution at Monday night’s meeting but said he knew that three of the town’s five councilors were already planning on voting against it, and he didn’t want to waste time discussing a measure that was going to fail. The three councilors planning to vote against the resolution were Jesse Pugh, Jill Lawler and Patrick Murray.
The resolution would’ve allowed Narragansett law enforcement to “exercise their discretion and not issue fines or violations based on the restrictions imposed on places of worship, restaurants, retail establishments and other small businesses.”
Mannix said he wanted the town to operate under personal responsibility and not state-imposed responsibility.
“I trust that our residents and business owners will exercise it,” Mannix said. “Many opponents of my resolution have made emotional pleas citing health concerns, yet I have seen very little grassroots opposition to big-box stores remaining open while small businesses, that the state deems non-essential, are forced to close.”
“The spread of germs in big-box stores, and the magnitude of people shopping in there, pose a much great risk of disease spread than in small businesses,” he continued.
Last week, Raimondo called the move “selfish” and “reckless.”
“That’s a huge mistake,” Raimondo said. “It’s so selfish to all the people of Rhode Island, who have worked so hard for so long.”
Mannix said he was not trying to be selfish nor reckless by introducing the resolution and said he’s just worried for the town’s residents and businesses – specifically citing concerns with a person’s right to worship, mourning at funerals, mental health and free enterprise/entrepreneurship.
“To those who have reached out to me regarding their safety concerns, this non-enforcement directive does not mean safety and cleaning measures should be abandoned,” Mannix said. “To the supermarket worker, who expressed concerns to me about disease spread being more likely if this resolution was approved, I would say that supermarkets – as private entities – have every right to require customers to wear masks and gloves.”
Mannix also pointed out churches are private entities, meaning a pastor could require churchgoers to comply with state regulations.
“Over the past few years, we have somehow forgotten those principles of private property and personal responsibility,” he said.
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