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Tampa Cracking Down On Non-Compliant Restaurants

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor
City of Tampa-Facebook page
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said restaurants that are not complying with city rules on social distancing are jeopardizing safety.

Tampa is cracking down on restaurants that do not follow laws designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Wednesday, it sent a warning letter to over 80 businesses that sell alcohol. The letter was sent to a list of businesses in a city contact list, and was not saying that these specific establishments were in violation of city ordinances.

City Attorney Gina Grimes sent the letter saying that Tampa leaders are aware that some restaurants have been functioning as bars and breaking laws on social distancing and mask-wearing.

The letter said site inspections will take place and those found breaking the rules could get $500 fines, 60 days in jail, or lose their alcohol licenses.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said on Facebook live that the rules are designed for safety. “There are some bad actors out there," the mayor said.  "Individuals that are not following the rules are really going to drag this out much longer than it needs to be and cause much more damage than they should,” said Castor.

The city attorney's letter pointed to how social media photos and contact tracing are exposing violators.

Mayor Castor said that just makes the job easier for law enforcement, “We’re letting them be warned and also letting them know that we know who you are.”

The letter stated the city understands the pressures businesses may feel in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and noted that options are in place for financial relief and to help with social distancing guidelines

The letter did not say when the inspections would begin.

(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story did not clearly identify that the recipients of the letter from the city were part of an overall contact list, and are not necessarily in possible violation of city ordinances.)