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Where do I have to wear a mask in Tampa Bay?

Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas each have slightly different rules. Here's what you should know.

With mask orders being issued left and right to combat the spread of COVID-19, knowing the rules from one part of Tampa Bay to another can get confusing.

Tampa is the only city in the area to issue a more stringent order than its county, which allows its rules to stand on their own. Residents of all other municipalities in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas will follow their county’s orders.

But what if I don’t understand those orders? You ask.

We’ve got you. Here are the rules for wearing masks in the Tampa Bay area.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

  • What are the rules? Face coverings must be worn inside all indoor establishments in Hillsborough County.
  • When do I have to start following them? The order goes into effect Wednesday at 5 p.m.
  • What happens if I don’t wear a mask? You won’t be penalized, but you might be thrown out. Businesses are required to enforce the mask order and can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor if they don’t, a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and/or six months probation and a $500 fine.
  • What are the exceptions? The mandate does not apply to children under 2, persons with pre-existing medical conditions that would be worsened by a mask, hearing-impaired persons, those working in a profession that would be unable to perform their duties with a mask such as public safety, exercising, eating and drinking, or those already observing federal social distancing guidelines (the 6-foot rule).
Related: RELATED: Hillsborough approves mask order for businesses

PASCO COUNTY

  • What are the rules? Face coverings must be worn inside all businesses, government offices, and schools in Pasco County.
  • When do I have to start following them? Enforcement will begin Thursday at 5 p.m.
  • What happens if I don’t wear a mask? You likely won’t be able to enter the business, or will be removed once inside. Individual business owners are required to enforce the ordinance or may face a fine up to $250.
  • What are the exceptions? The mandate does not apply to children under 2, persons with pre-existing medical conditions that would be worsened by a mask, hearing-impaired persons, exercising or engaging in indoor sporting activities, eating and drinking, or those already observing federal social distancing guidelines (the 6-foot rule). Its enforcement cannot conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Related: RELATED: Pasco adopts face mask requirements to combat COVID-19

PINELLAS COUNTY

  • What are the rules? Face coverings must be worn in all indoor public places in Pinellas County.
  • When do I have to follow them? The order goes into effect Wednesday at 5 p.m.
  • What if I don’t wear a mask? You may be prevented from entering a business –– and you can also be fined by the police. Customers not wearing a mask can receive a civil citation of $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second and $500 for a third. Additional repeat violations may result in a misdemeanor arrest.
  • What are the exceptions? The mandate does not apply to government entities or hospitals, persons under 18, those already observing federal social distancing guidelines (the 6-foot rule), persons with pre-existing medical conditions that would be worsened by a mask, hearing-impaired persons, exercising, or religious rituals such as singing. Its enforcement cannot conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additional regulations are in place for restaurant and bar employees.
Related: RELATED: Pinellas County to require face coverings in businesses

TAMPA

  • What are the rules? Face coverings must be worn indoors outside the home at all times in the city of Tampa.
  • When do I have to follow them? The order went into effect Friday, June 19 at 5 p.m.
  • What if I don’t wear a mask? You could get a civil citation of up to $500. Businesses can also receive a $500 civil citation for failing to enforce the mask order.
  • What are the exceptions? The city’s exemptions are the same as Hillsborough County’s.
Related: RELATED: Tampa's mask order went into effect today. Here's what you need to know

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