TAMPA — Now is not the time for slipping that mask off and heading for the dance floor, Tampa.
That’s the message delivered by Mayor Jane Castor in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday.
Castor said lifting any local mask orders would be a “grave mistake,” and promised to lobby St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Pinellas County Commissioners to think twice about modifying or lifting that county’s mask order next month. Same goes for Pasco County, she said.
Pinellas commissioners had discussed possible changes in October at a recent meeting.
Regional cooperation has never been more important, Castor said. The three-counties comprise a single commuting whole, with people working in one county and living in another.
“The mission should go together,” she said, adding she intends to call Kriseman to discuss strategy. Her chief of staff John Bennett, a former Pinellas County assistant administrator, is also working the phones.
Castor has long been a proponent of wearing masks in public. She pushed for a county order in the spring before her fellow Emergency Policy Group members were ready to jump on board. And she issued an executive order for a citywide mask order in June, again leading her fellow EPG members.
The county commission dissolved the policy group in August and haven’t made any moves toward repealing the countywide order, at least that she’s heard, Castor said.
Castor no longer has a formal decision-making role in county mask actions, but the city order still stands and will be enforced in any eventuality, she confirmed.
As for bars reopening by state order on Monday, Castor said she remains opposed to an activity that could spread the coronavirus, a position she’s held vocally for months.
And multiple reports that several Tampa bars opened early — and illegally — over the weekend has her attention. She said police and code enforcement officers are closely monitoring reported violators.
Castor urged residents to recreate safely and dancing closely indoors doesn’t make the cut.
“You have to apply common sense," said Castor. “As my father used to say: ‘it’s not as common as you might think.’”
Bar owners should be compensated with federal coronavirus relief dollars to stay closed, she said, reiterating previous statements. Failing that, they need to step up and enforce the mask order and social distancing requirements, she said.
“We’ll hold bar owners accountable,” she said.
As news broke that the fabled New York City Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Parade will proceed without anyone watching from the streets, (Castor: “doesn’t sound like a parade to me.") the chances of a local sports celebration/party are far from clear, Castor told the Times.
The city and Lightning are in talks about how and if to hold a parade if the team wins the Stanley Cup.
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“We’ll wait and see,” Castor said.