Tampa joins Orlando area, will require face coverings in public

Tampa joins Orlando area, will require face coverings in public
Tampa joined Orlando and Orange County in requiring face masks for residents, visitors and workers. (Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images)

In an effort to battle the rising number of coronavirus cases in Florida, residents in two of the state’s major metropolitan areas will be required to wear masks in public beginning this weekend.

Mayor Jane Castor announced a mandatory mask ordinance for Tampa on Thursday during Hillsborough County’s Emergency Policy Group meeting, WTSP reported. The order will take effect at 5 p.m. Friday and apply to all indoor locations outside the home when residents are unable to maintain a 6-foot separation from others, Castor said in a Facebook Live appearance.

Children younger than 2 will not be required to wear masks, according to the ordinance.

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Castor’s actions followed those of Orlando Mayor Jerry Demings, who announced mandatory face coverings in Orlando and Orange County beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, WFTV reported.

“If we wear masks, we can put an end to this spread,” Castor said during Thursday’s meeting. “That is the bottom line.”

Castor said Tampa has four of the five ZIP codes with the highest rates of coronavirus infections per 1,000 residents, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

On Wednesday, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced that employees of all businesses in the city will be required to wear face coverings in areas open to the public, the newspaper reported. That will also go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group will vote on a similar mask order for the entire county Monday, WTVT reported.

In Central Florida, the ordinance for Orlando and Orange County applies to every person working, living or visiting the area, WFTV reported.

The orders in both metropolitan areas come after Florida reported a record-breaking 3,200 cases Thursday the television station reported.