Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, a Democrat, warned Monday that fans who celebrated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ win in Super Bowl LV without wearing masks will be identified by the Tampa Police Department, who she promised will “handle” the situation.
What is the background?
Humans sans face masks were a huge concern for the mainstream media. The New York Times, for example, wondered whether Super Bowl celebrations would create a “superspreader” event in Tampa Bay. The Washington Post and Huffington Post voiced similar concerns.
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather even questioned whether it was “responsible” to air commercials showing maskless individuals.
What did Castor say?
During a press conference on Monday, Castor called maskless fans “bad actors” and threatened action by law enforcement.
“Everyone knows that simply wearing a mask dramatically reduces the spread of COVID-19. And I’m proud to say that the majority of the individuals that I saw out and about enjoying the festivities associated with the Super Bowl were complying,” Castor began. “We had tens of thousands of people all over the city, downtown, out by the stadium … and very very few incidents.”
“I’m proud of our community but those few bad actors will be identified and the Tampa Police Department will handle it,” she threatened.
“There just has to be that level of personal responsibility,” the Democratic mayor continued. “You can supply everyone with a mask, advise them of the science behind it and expect that they are going to abide by the mask order. Again, you’re gonna find a few that don’t. The majority that I saw were wearing masks.”
BREAKING: At a press conference Monday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said that maskless fans at the Super Bowl will be "identified" by law enforcement and that police will "handle" the situation pic.twitter.com/S20Xv97jYJ
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 8, 2021
What can authorities enforce?
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Castor issued an executive order prior the Super Bowl extending the city’s face mask ordinance to include popular outdoor locations.
Castor’s office claimed the purpose of the order was to encourage “safe” behavior, but it threatened fines for violators.
From the Times:
The order is designed to be voluntary, but as a “last resort,” the order states violators can be cited with a “nominal civil infraction” that carries a penalty up to a $500 fine. It’s unclear how that penalty will coexist with Gov. Ron DeSantis’s previous order that individuals couldn’t be fined for violating pandemic restrictions.
It is not clear what specific action Castor has in mind for maskless fans. Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan had said that issuing citations should be a “last resort.”
According to the Associated Press, Castor admitted Monday that there was no spike in COVID-19 cases after the city celebrated the Tampa Bay Lightening’s Stanley Cup championship last fall.
Author: Chris Enloe