St. Pete launches ‘Race To Safe’ COVID-19 initiative after sheriff finds widespread noncompliance

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the sheriff’s office did ordinance checks on 2,800 bars and restaurants Nov. 13-15.

click to enlarge St. Pete launches ‘Race To Safe’ COVID-19 initiative after sheriff finds widespread noncompliance
StPeteFL/Facebook


Looks like some dining establishments weren’t following the COVID-19 ordinances set in place by Pinellas County.

On Thursday, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the sheriff’s office did ordinance checks on 2,800 bars and restaurants Nov. 13-15 and found 40% of bars and 8% of restaurants weren’t in compliance. The majority of violations included staff and customers not wearing masks and no social distancing. 

On Friday, Tampa Bay Business Journal listed a dozen restaurants not in compliance including Shepard’s Tiki Beach Grill, Crown & Bull, Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish and more.

In comments at his press conference, Gualtieri said the “defiant” establishments are saying “the heck with it, I’m not going to do it, I don’t care” and forcing the Pinellas Sheriff's hand. Citations, however, will only be issued after follow up compliance checks are done.

On the Monday after the TBBJ report, the City of St. Petersburg launched its #RaceToSafe initiative during a press conference. Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin says it focuses on the community's health and protection from COVID-19.

“The #RaceToSafe is a community-wide effort to become and remain Florida’s most COVID safe community,” she said, adding that St. Petersburg is committed to building a healthy community that “creates equitable access and outcomes for everyone”.

Later in the press conference, streamed live on Facebook, Mayor Kriseman evoked the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine, saying, “A vaccine will come and it will be safe. Everyone should receive one but the majority of our community will not receive a vaccine for quite some time.”

Kriseman added that the city has issued more citations to restaurants that they needed to. “Too many business owners and patrons continue to let their guard down,” he said. He says existing orders will continue to be enforced. We can’t believe we need to repeat these steps, but actions suggested in the #RaceToSafe campaign include:

  • Washing your hands for 20 seconds or more
  • Maintaining a 6-foot social distance
  • Getting tested whether symptomatic or not
  • Planning safe or virtual gatherings
  • Avoiding high risk activities

On Monday, The Florida Department of Health reported 7,711 coronavirus infections and 106 deaths. The Tampa Bay Times says that is the highest death toll the state has ever reported on a Monday.

Learn more about the “Race to Safe” initiative at stpete.org/racetosafe.

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