ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — St. Pete leaders are sending out a strong message: Wear a mask or face a fine.
City leaders are preparing to step up enforcement for businesses violating Pinellas County’s mask order.
There’s a new sign outside the door of Sans Market on Central Avenue. It reads “no mask, no entry.”
Eniko Olah, who works at the Sans Market, says it’s an important reminder.
“We put that sign up recently because when Governor DeSantis announced we would be opening things up, people got a little bit too relaxed,” she explained.
Olah, like many business owners, is serious about combating the spread of COVID-19.
“We have free masks in the store for people that they can put on when they’re shopping so if you’re not willing to wear you’re own or put on a free one and you’d rather walk out, then I guess it’s probably better that way for both of us,” she added.
A few blocks down Central Avenue, Stephen Hiance at the Brass Bowl says he’s willing to enforce the rules, at any cost.
“Whether you want to do (wear a mask) it or not, we want everyone to feel safe,” he elaborated.
St. Pete’s COVID-19 positivity jumped from a 3% rolling average to a 3.8% rolling average. A few days this week, the positivity rate neared 6%.
That’s worrisome for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
“I was on the phone today with someone from New Jersey and they said we have shut down again and all I kept thinking is I don’t want us to get to that point,” he added.
City leaders plan to step up enforcement by targeting businesses breaking mask rules. In St Pete, a business’ first mask violation will cost them $100, a second one: $250, 3 or more: $500.
124 St. Pete businesses have been cited or warned since June 22.
“We will issue you a citation, I don’t want to do that. I’d like us to police ourselves but you need to know if you’re not going to do it, we will,” Kriseman said.
Hiance hopes everyone will do their part to keep our community safe. “You’ve got to think of it like we’re just a big team and if we all participate, we can win the game,” he explained.