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What do Tampa and St. Pete's new face mask rules mean?

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman have issued new rules for wearing masks to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

TAMPA, Fla. — The same day we broke a record for newly-confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida, new mask rules are taking effect on both sides of Tampa Bay.

Earlier this week, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced their own, different sets of mask rules would take effect at 5 p.m. Friday in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

In Tampa, you now need to wear a mask anytime you're inside a public space where you can't stay 6 feet away from other people. We reached out to the mayor's office for more clarification and exceptions, but here is more information on the city's website.

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First, what about kids? Yes, the mayor's office says this applies to children over the age of 2 especially if they are indoors. But kids don't need to wear them inside if they can maintain 6 feet of distance between them and any other person. This applies to summer camps for kids as well. Social distancing is a key factor here.

Second, what about people with health problems? No, you do not have to wear a mask if covering your face would make it harder to breathe or cause other complications.

Third, what about coworkers who are social distancing? No, if coworkers are able to maintain 6 feet of distance between each other at all times, they do not have to wear masks. 

Besides those exceptions, everyone in Tampa needs a mask inside public places. Not wearing one could get you a civil citation that can carry up to a $500 fine. 

In St. Petersburg, Kriseman said all employees must wear masks inside the public parts of their businesses. That includes places like restaurants, bars, gyms, retail shops, entertainment establishments, salons and barbers.

A few exceptions for workers in St Pete: You don't need a mask if it would make your medical condition worse or while you're eating or exercising. St. Pete's rules don't apply yet to customers. 

But to be clear: The CDC and the city both recommend you still wear a mask anyway, and that might not be optional soon. Kriseman says he's considering requiring all residents to wear masks while inside businesses but that is not official yet.

He had this message for millennials: "If you get the virus your death rate may not be as high as someone who is 75 years old, but you could easily infect someone who is your parent or grandparent and they could die from the virus."

Remember, properly wearing a mask means it has to cover your mouth and nose. It sounds obvious, but we have seen hundreds of people wearing masks incorrectly, defeating their purpose, over the past few months.

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