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Hillsborough Commissioners: No Standing At Bars, Restaurants

As coronavirus infections continue to spike, county commissioners voted to make sure businesses keep people from standing up and congregating in large groups.

Hillsborough County commissioners took a stand Wednesday against anyone standing up at businesses that serve food or drink.

They voted to require those establishments to make sure people sit down unless they are waiting to be seated. They also passed a requirement that patrons have to keep their masks on unless they're eating or drinking.

Commissioner Kimberly Overman made the motions.

"We are going into the holiday season. We are going into New Year's Eve. We are going into times when people typically gather in public places in large bodies," she said. "And so I think it's critically important that we send the message that now's not the time to let your guard down."

Overman said she doesn't want to shut any businesses down.

"It's to allow our citizens to be able to go to businesses and enjoy their friendships and families safely," she said, "because they know when they get there, the highest levels of protocols are being adopted."

Commissioners Ken Hagan and Stacey White voted no, with White saying, "The American public by a large majority believes that COVID is something we're going to have to learn to live with."

This week, around three dozen county code enforcement officers are doing a "blitz" to make sure business owners know they are supposed to make sure all employees are wearing masks.

They're also asking them to post signs asking patrons to do the same. The officers will distribute masks and signs for businesses that need them.

Hillsborough saw one of its largest two-day spikes last Thursday and Friday with nearly 1,850 people testing positive for the coronavirus.

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.