Tampa Mayor Jane Castor will make face masks mandatory within city limits

The order goes into effect Friday, June 19 at 5 p.m.

click to enlarge Tampa Mayor Jane Castor observing a protest in Tampa, Florida on June 2, 2020. - MARLO MILLER
Marlo Miller
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor observing a protest in Tampa, Florida on June 2, 2020.

In a Thursday meeting of Hillsborough County’s Emergency Policy Group (EPG), Tampa Mayor Jane Castor pledged action now that her city has four of the five zip codes with the highest rates of coronavirus infections.

That action involves Castor ordering a mandatory face mask policy for the City of Tampa.

Ashley Bauman, spokesperson for the mayor told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that the order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 19. All Tampa residents are affected, and Bauman added that the order requires masks to be worn at all indoor locations. You don't need to wear a mask when drinking or eating at a restaurant, obviously, and a mask is not required in your own home (all you fake Libertarians can calm down now).

Castor gave more details on the order at an online press conference and daily update.

During the update, Castor, who tried to get the EPG to make face masks mandatory back in April, said Hillsborough County saw a 900% increase in positive cases over the last month. She made it a point to address the argument that positive cases are only up because of an increase in testing.

"That is true," Castor said. "But if you look at that ratio of testing to positive outcomes, we are still increasing dramatically at the rate of 100 cases per day. The majority of those increases right now are in the age bracket of 25-34."

Castor also said that there would be no criminal penalty for anyone violating the order.

"I anticipate that, by and large, everyone is going to comply with this, but we again are going to educate and encourage, and if it comes down to it, it is a civil infraction—a civil citation," Castor added.

She also pledged to supply masks to businesses and any individual who needs one.

"We've had thousands of masks donated, and the county has a huge supply of masks as well," Castor said. "So we will make sure that everyone has a mask available to them."

"What we're looking for here is to cut the transmission of COVID-19 in our community through a cooperative effort of all of our residents," Castor added.

Hillsborough's EPG, however, stopped short of making masks mandatory within the county just yet. Instead, members voted 5-3 to have county attorneys draft the order, which will need to be voted on when the group meets again on Monday. "No" votes came from Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, Planty City Mayor Rick Lott and Hillsborough School Board chairwoman Melissa Snively.

Zip codes in East Tampa, West Tampa and downtown had the highest rate of infections in the county according to public health officials who spoke at the meeting (here's the data). Thomas Unnasch, a health professor from the University of South Florida, also spoke at the meeting—he said that a peak could come in mid-July and that quick action by the EPG would be necessary if the Tampa Bay are wanted to avoid getting to one million infections by September.

The news of Tampa's new order comes less than a day after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman issued his own mask order for employees at St. Pete businesses. Kriseman, who cited the increasing number of young St. Petersburg-ers coming down with COVID-19, added that his city attorney is drafting an order that would make face masks mandatory for customers of businesses, too.

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About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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