TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Heading into 2021 amid the winter coronavirus surge, the City of Tampa has partnered with a group of small businesses that are promoting being open with COVID-19 safety measures in place.

“We’re gonna be decorating, we will have a champagne toast at midnight,” general manager Clay Parkinson said about New Year’s Eve plans at New World Brewery.

Parkinson said he will be seating around 70 people when his capacity can be greater than 300.

“We don’t believe in what the governor is saying,” Parkinson explained. “We can’t go 100 percent. That is just irresponsible on our part for ourselves our staff our customers.”

Governor Ron DeSantis lifted statewide coronavirus restrictions at the end of September. Florida is one of only 12 states without a statewide mask mandate.

As venues prepare for New Year’s Eve, Hillsborough County has an order that bans dance floors and states that bar patrons must be seated to be served.

The message from the Tampa mayor’s office is for residents to practice COVID-19 safety measures in the final hours of 2020 like they should any other night out.

“Let’s be honest, we can all agree that 2020 has been a bit of a dumpster fire – but the end is in sight and we need you to be the fire extinguisher,” Mayor Jane Castor said in a new PSA released Wednesday.

The City of Tampa has endorsed the “Safe and Sound” initiative started by Parkinson and several other local business owners.

“We wanted to either call out other businesses that are not or encourage others to exercise the same practices that are gonna keep everybody safe because people do want to go out,” said Veronica Dank, owner of Independent Bar and Café in Seminole Heights.

Businesses are encouraged to take the self-assessment survey and comply with the Safe & Sound standards in order to earn their sticker which can be prominently displayed at their place of business.

Parkinson said they want to promote strict mask enforcement and social distancing in their establishments.

“We’re trying to show that look you can still be open, you can still have fun, you can still have music, you can still drink and eat,” Parkinson said. “But if you implement these things, you’re doing it in a safe manner that will help at least mildly control this virus that’s going on right now.”

According to the CDC, the safest way to ring in the New Year is at home or virtually with family and friends. Here’s some advice for those planning to attend a celebration.

  • It’s okay if you decide to stay home and remain apart from others. Do what’s best for you.
  • If traveling for a celebration, know what to do before, during, and after travel.
  • Bring your own food, drinks, and disposable plates, cups, and utensils.
  • Wear a mask indoors and outdoors and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs that can alter judgement and make it difficult to practice COVID-19 safety measures.
  • Avoid shouting and singing.
  • Avoid areas where food is prepared, such as the kitchen.
  • Use single-use options, like condiment packets.