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Tampa’s mask order went into effect Friday. Here’s what you need to know

Mayor Jane Castor's executive order takes effect Friday at 5 p.m. Here's the rules, the exceptions and the $500 ticket explained.

TAMPA — When happy hour started in the city on Friday, the jollity was perhaps a bit muffled.

At least between sips.

Starting at 5 p.m. Friday, a mandatory mask order requiring all Tampa residents (and those working and visiting Florida’s third-largest city) to wear masks indoors outside their home went into effect.

Fair warning, masked bandits. Mayor Jane Castor’s order spells out that masks can’t be used to conceal your identity.

The idea is to slow the spread of coronavirus. Hillsborough County on Friday set a new single-day record for infections with 372.

Castor issued executive order 2020-27 on Thursday. You can read it in its entirety here.

The city’s website has a long list of exemptions to the rule, which will stay in effect until the local state of emergency that’s been in place since mid-March is lifted “or unless otherwise modified or repealed.”

In other words, stay tuned.

Here are the exemptions:

  • Children under 2.
  • Those observing federal social distancing guidelines (the 6-foot rule.)
  • Anyone who has pre-existing health conditions that would be adversely affected by a mask.
  • Those working inside in a business or profession who don’t interact with other people.
  • Those inside a business who socially distance themselves from others.
  • Those working in a business or profession where a mask or face covering would prevent them from performing their duties.
  • Exercising while social distancing.
  • Eating and drinking.
  • The mask rule doesn’t apply when a hearing-impaired person needs to see the mouth of someone wearing a mask in order to communicate.

Mayoral spokeswoman Ashley Bauman said the city will hand out free masks at distribution sites starting Saturday from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Here are those sites:

  • Himes Avenue Complex, 4501 S Himes Ave.
  • MacFarlane Park, 1700 N MacDill Ave.
  • Al Barnes Park, 2902 N 32nd St.

Mask up, Tampa! If you don’t, Castor has said you’ll get coached up about the usefulness of masks in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

If you don’t listen, you might get a civil citation (read ticket) of up to $500.

That kind of money would buy a lot of masks.

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