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Tampa Bay mask mandates: Who has them, what they mean

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of a face covering to limit the spread of COVID-19.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Counties and cities across the Tampa Bay region have implemented mask mandates in recent weeks in response to spiking COVID-19 cases.

They're for good reason, with doctors and many local leaders in agreement: Wearing a face covering helps as a way to prevent transmission of the respiratory virus. They could protect other people from catching the virus if you are infected and wearing one.

An expert in fluid dynamics and mechanical engineering recorded what happens on video, showing how much air is expelled from the body from the nose and mouth both with and without wearing a mask.

RELATED: Dynamic video shows how you expel air with and without mask

RELATED: Widespread mask orders could save nearly 8,000 lives in Florida, model predicts

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not ordered a statewide mask mandate and instead has allowed counties and local municipalities to decide what to do. This means people in Manatee County -- who do not live under an order to wear a mask in public -- must do so when visiting an indoor public space in Pinellas County.

Here's a breakdown of the orders across the Tampa Bay area, with additional information for each community provided:

Hillsborough County

Face coverings must be worn inside public buildings when social distancing cannot be maintained. It also applies to nonprofit organizations. Children under age 8 are not required to wear a mask, and children under age 18 participating in organized youth activities like sports and summer camps are exempt, as well.

The county's mandate went into effect June 24.

In Tampa, people must also wear a face covering in any public indoor location when not maintaining social distancing. Children under 2 are exempt.

It has been effective since June 19.

Manatee County

There is no mandatory mask ordinance in place.

In Anna Maria, people must wear a face covering inside a public building unless they are able to properly socially distance. Children under 2 are exempt.

It went into effect on June 27.

Nearby Holmes Beach also adopted an emergency mask ordinance, which mandates people must wear a covering inside a business when they cannot maintain social distancing.

It has been in effect since Sunday, June 28.

Longboat Key has voted 7-0 to approve a mandatory mask order, requiring people to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors in public areas where social distancing is not possible. The order lasts for 60 days, beginning July 3. There are exceptions for children ages 6 and under or for anyone with health conditions that may prevent them from wearing masks.

Pasco County

Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles issued a mandatory mask order to apply to people inside a public business or county government building. Children under the age of 2 are exempt. 

It has been in effect since June 25.

Pinellas County

People inside most public buildings must wear a mask. Parents can decide whether their children under age 18 should wear one. 

The ordinance went into effect June 24. 

In St. Petersburg, Mayor Rick Kriseman signed an executive order requiring the use of face coverings inside public buildings. It does not apply if there are fewer than 10 people in the space and all are maintaining social distancing. It is up to the parent whether their child under 18 should wear a mask.

The order has been effective since June 22.

Kriseman also ordered businesses to develop a COVID-19 plan and instructed their employees to wear a mask. That has been in effect since June 19.

Polk County

Lakeland city leaders have voted in favor of a mask mandate for anyone who works, lives, visits or does business in the city. The mask order applies to any indoor location, other than a home or residence, when not social distancing from other people, excluding family members or companions, the city's order says.

People in Winter Haven and those looking to enjoy a day at LEGOLAND will have to mask up as part of an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

City commissioners voted unanimously for the emergency ordinance, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. July 13.

Sarasota County

The city of Sarasota requires face coverings in indoor and outdoor public locations and businesses. They are not required when there is proper social distancing. Children under the age of 18 are exempt.

City leaders also decided if people choose to wear a face shield of some sort, that is an acceptable form of protection.

Its order went into effect July 1. It applies only to the city of Sarasota, not the county.

Citrus County

There is no mandatory mask ordinance in place.

DeSoto County

There is no mandatory mask ordinance in place.

Hardee County

There is no mandatory mask ordinance in place.

Hernando County

There is no mandatory mask ordinance in place.

Highlands County

There is no mandatory mask ordinance in place.

Polk County

There is no mandatory mask ordinance in place.


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