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Seminole Heights business owner takes new step to enforce wearing masks

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Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 23:16:05-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa Bay business owner’s frustration over a lack of mask-wearing has led him to post a new, very direct sign outside his Seminole Heights shop.

“We want to keep our families safe in our community,” said Jesse Utterback, owner of Smoke Signals Smoke Shop. “We pride ourselves on being a community-based business.”

A big part of that, Utterback says, is making sure people follow the rules when entering his building on North Florida Avenue.

It’s been difficult lately as some customers ignore not one, not two, but four signs posted to the front door urging them to mask up.

“My business partner and I both have been threatened to get our butts kicked by bad customers who think it’s an infringement on their rights or what have you," he said.

The latest sign reads: “It has been almost a year, this shouldn’t be so hard. If you walk in the store without a mask, you will be refused service. Yes, it has come to this point.”

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The new sign comes as the City of Tampa targets repeat offenders of the city’s mask ordinance. City council members recently suspended alcohol permits at Tangra Nightclub and Ybor Cigars Plus for a three-day period.


ABC Action News has learned, 61 Tampa businesses have been cited for violating the city’s mask ordinance, which went into effect in December.

Utterback said he’s willing to sacrifice a few sales if it means keeping his staff and customers safe inside the store.

“It’s too easy to do the right thing and if everybody did it, then we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now.”