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Code enforcement joins effort to ensure Super Bowl revelers wear masks

Businesses and individuals can be cited for failing to follow mask orders, which include fines up to $450.
Huffing and puffing beneath their masks, Bryan Harrison, 48, of Brandon, runs the 40-yard dash with son Joseph Harrison, 6, during the Super Bowl Experience on Friday at Julian B. Lane Waterfront Park.
Huffing and puffing beneath their masks, Bryan Harrison, 48, of Brandon, runs the 40-yard dash with son Joseph Harrison, 6, during the Super Bowl Experience on Friday at Julian B. Lane Waterfront Park. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Feb. 2

TAMPA — Super Bowl 55 may be days away, but the party is already in full swing in downtown Tampa, where a week of concerts, fireworks and fan events are proving to be an irresistible temptation 11 months into the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a welcome boost for the city and its local businesses, Mayor Jane Castor said, “but we need everyone to do their part.”

“We want fans to feel confident knowing that when they come out to celebrate Super Bowl LV, they can do so safely in a city that takes this pandemic seriously,” she said.

That’s why local law enforcement officers are partnering with code enforcement teams from both Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa this week to patrol the local businesses tasked with ensuring fans follow COVID-19 precautions — wearing face masks at all times, even outside.

On top of existing rules for social distancing and wearing masks indoors, Mayor Jane Castor on Thursday issued an order requiring masks to be worn outdoors in most of the city’s popular destinations, including SoHo, Ybor City, Water Street and the Super Bowl event areas scattered throughout downtown and around Raymond James Stadium. until Feb. 13.

Tampa’s code enforcement officers, known as the Neighborhood Enhancement Division, will be working longer hours, seven days a week, to patrol bars and restaurants. But under the new order, the code enforcement “strike teams” are also allowed to fine non-compliant people as a “last resort.”

Individuals refusing to comply with the city’s executive orders will get one warning from code enforcement before being cited with a civil infraction. Tickets for both businesses and individuals come with a $150 fine for a first offense, $300 fine for the second and $450 for each subsequent infraction.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan told the Tampa Bay Times that the week of the Super Bowl will be “all hands on deck.” Officers from roughly 70 different agencies on the local, state and federal level will be in Tampa throughout the week to help Tampa police and code enforcement officers, Dugan said.

The city will see a heavier law enforcement presence ahead of and during the Super Bowl, Castor said, with marine patrols, bike squads and “eyes in the sky.” But ensuring that Tampa’s Super Bowl doesn’t become a super spreader event will be largely up to those in attendance, she said. The strategy is to encourage “personal responsibility.”

“We’re not looking at this from an enforcement viewpoint, but from an encouragement viewpoint,” she said.

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Tampa Bay Times Super Bowl 55 coverage

TIMELINE: How the Bucs and Tampa converged for Super Bowl 55

ATTENTION SUPER BOWL VISITORS: Here’s our guide to Tampa Bay’s socially distanced attractions

PARTY PLANNING IN A PANDEMIC: How to host a safe Super Bowl party

FANS IN TAMPA: A first look inside the Super Bowl Experience in Tampa

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