Poke & Park: Free St. Pete parking incentive hopes to drive down COVID cases

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The city of St. Petersburg is getting creative trying to lower COVID-19 cases in Tampa Bay by offering free parking for weeks in exchange for getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The event is called ‘Poke and Park’, and here’s how it works: Get a COVID-19 vaccine and get a month of free parking at any downtown garage to use anytime this year.

St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin said an incentive like this is needed now more than ever.

“Numbers in St. Pete, Florida, and across our nation are way too high. It’s not a sustainable situation. We remain in a public health crisis,” Tomalin said.

The Pinellas County Health Department said more than 550,000 people in the county have received the vaccine so far. That’s just over 60% of the population.

City leaders hope this parking incentive drives down COVID-19 cases. They said the idea is generating a lot of excitement.

“The one thing people agree on about downtown St. Pete, other than that it’s a fabulous place to have fun, is parking can be a challenge,” Tomalin said. “So what better thing to do than free parking for a month to use anytime during the year!”

The city is holding the event Sunday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at City Hall. The first 500 people will receive a voucher.

Vouchers will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note, if you have already been vaccinated, you are not eligible for a voucher.

City leaders hope this event will help lower covid cases among hospitality workers downtown.

“They’re our frontline workers who are interacting with the public every day, so if we can encourage them to get vaccinated and get a parking space for a month while they’re at it, that’s a win/win,” Tomalin said.

Just this past Friday, the Rays held a similar vaccination incentive, go to a game and get free tickets.

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