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Hillsborough County strongly recommends face coverings at outdoor bars, restaurants

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Posted at 3:04 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 17:32:06-05

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County is cracking down on outdoor dining when it comes to COVID-19 safety.

“We’re reaching a peak that it doesn’t appear that we’ve reached yet, so anything we can do, especially as the Super Bowl comes,” said Pat Kemp, Hillsborough County Commissioner for District 6.

In an effort to lessen the spread of COVID-19 the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners voted 5-2, to tweak the language of its mask ordinance.

The provision strongly encourages bars and restaurants to expand mask wearing to outdoor areas.

RELATED: Proposal would expand Hillsborough's mask mandate to outdoor bar, restaurant spaces

“For too long we’ve allowed the bars and restaurants and those that serve food to pack in as mask-less folks and consequently are numbers are at levels that are not safe,” said Kimberly Overman, of District 7.

The recommendation strongly suggests bars and restaurants require customers to wear face coverings outdoors, when they're not social distancing. Unless they are seated, and eating and drinking.

“It is important for us to take a look at ways that we can set a minimum standard that consumers and citizens expect in order to allow them to participate in our economy, but also be able to protect their health,” Overman said.

Some Commissioners did not support the modification, saying it could force more small businesses to shut down.

“Our small businesses have just been put through too much and I just think as a policy this would just be overkill,” Stacy White, of District 4 said.

Because this is a recommendation and not a mandate, there is no penalty associated with it.