By Gabriella Borter
TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) – As jovial soccer followers crowded the streets and bars of Tampa on Saturday with hours to go till Tremendous Bowl LV, a whole lot have been strolling with out face coverings by way of areas the place the mayor has issued a masks mandate to curb the unfold of COVID-19.
Till this weekend, followers attending the Tremendous Bowl LV Expertise theme park alongside the Tampa Riverwalk have largely been in a position to keep socially distant and largely appeared to adjust to the masks mandate.
However as Friday ushered in a weekend usually marked by nationwide partying, extra followers milled alongside the slim Riverwalk in Tremendous Bowl LV’s humid host metropolis, some carrying drinks and bumping shoulders as they handed, and plenty of decreasing their masks or skipping them altogether.
“I am shocked that there are such a lot of that aren’t carrying masks,” stated Sara Hannigan, a 58-year-old Clearwater, Florida resident who was carrying a Inexperienced Bay Packers masks on high of a surgical masks as she walked by a busy row of meals distributors.
“It is as much as them. I am taking good care of myself,” Hannigan stated, including that she had not seen any enforcement apart from a couple of folks handing out free masks. “If they do not wish to, I simply keep away.”
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor issued a masks mandate final month alongside the Tampa Riverwalk and round different fashionable locations, which carried the doable penalty of a $500 nice for violators, based on the Tampa Bay Occasions.
Representatives from the mayor’s workplace and the Tampa police division didn’t instantly reply to Reuters’ inquiry about whether or not anybody had been fined for violating the masks order, or the way it was being enforced.
“We want everybody to take private duty to maintain themselves, different followers and our Tampa Bay neighborhood secure,” Castor stated in an announcement on Jan. 28.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan informed Reuters final week that he didn’t anticipate his officers would implement COVID-19 measures aside from reminding folks to social distance.
“We actually don’t wish to get into being the masks police,” Dugan stated.
Whereas the Tremendous Bowl’s standard collection of celeb events is muted this 12 months in Tampa as a result of pandemic, a celebration hosted by rapper 50 Cent on Friday evening drew consternation from the mayor of close by St. Petersburg Florida after the celeb information web site TMZ printed images of maskless attendees shoulder-to-shoulder.
“This is not how we must be celebrating the Tremendous Bowl. It is not secure or sensible. It is silly. We’ll take a really shut take a look at this, and it might find yourself costing somebody much more than 50 cent,” Mayor Rick Kriseman stated on Twitter on Saturday.
The Tampa Police issued an announcement on Saturday following stories of Friday evening events that violated COVID-19 protocols, saying the dearth of compliance at some leisure venues was “extremely disappointing.”
On the Riverwalk on Saturday afternoon, three volunteers from the Metropolis of Tampa Mayor’s Youth Corps have been providing free masks to a whole lot of pedestrians carrying soccer jerseys, lots of them consuming and ingesting as they walked.
The volunteers stated that they had discovered some keen recipients, however some passersby had laughed at their group’s effort or commented that they have been outdoors and due to this fact didn’t want a masks.
“Individuals have the mindset the place, if I am outdoors, I do not want one,” stated the youth corps’ 17-year-old Gabrielle Jones.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Enhancing by David Gregorio)