Hillsborough County to vote on mandating face masks

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WLFA) – The Hillsborough County Emergency Planning Group will vote Thursday on whether to require people to wear face coverings in public or not.

The idea came from Tampa’s Mayor Jane Castor when she proposed the mandate during an EPG meeting Monday.

“We have done a great job at slowing the spread so far, but I think this extra measure will take it a step further,” Castor said.

If the mandate is approved, people would have to wear a face coverings if they go out in public and are in close proximity to others. This doesn’t mean when someone goes for a walk, but rather going to the grocery store or to work.

Mayor Castor says there wouldn’t be a punishment for someone not wearing a mask. It’s similar to the safer-at-home order where this move is about personal responsibility and officers will encourage and educate, rather than punish.

The mandate also wouldn’t require wearing masks, but rather any sort of covering.

“We don’t want to take any supplies from our healthcare workers, so that’s why we are encouraging individuals to just use the face coverings,” she said. ” It can go all the way from pulling your t-shirt up over your face to elaborate homemade masks.”

Mayor Castor understands there is some push back with this possible move, but her hope is that people understand it’s all about stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“Don’t take a negative look at these steps that we are taking as a community to help reduce the spread of this virus as some type of oppression, look at it as we are all in this together and we are all trying to stay healthy and stay safe,” she said.

The EPG will discuss and vote on this mandate at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.

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