Masks recommended, not mandatory as Florida begins to reopen

Covering our faces and social distancing are things we've gotten used to while out in public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor recommends face masks for everyone as the state begins the process of reopening some of what were considered non-essential businesses.

FOX 13 News went to the Tampa Convention Center, where outside there were crowds of people getting their exercise without face coverings. But after being there for a while, we found a few people enjoying the outdoors and abiding by CDC guidelines.

"Why are they not wearing one? Everybody should wear one," Lonette James asked as she was out for a walk.

RELATED: Simulation research shows COVID-19 can spread farther by those exercising outdoors

Nicole Williams said through her mask, "I'm wearing it for my own protection and to protect others."

Then there was Greg Sinadinos, who was taking his new bicycle out for the first time while wearing a mask. He said it was a little uncomfortable to wear while riding, but also said it's just common courtesy.

“I don't know if I have it, if there's a 14-day window where I could have it before I show symptoms, I sneeze on a crowded bike trail and other people go through it, it lingers in the air, I don't want anybody else to catch something from me just as I don't want to catch it from anybody else," Sinadinos told FOX 13 News.

Governor Ron DeSantis recommends people wear facemasks during face-to-face interactions with others and if you can't adequately social distance. But he said that's not something he plans on requiring at the state level.

“We’re not going to fine people if they don't do it," DeSantis said.

MORE: JetBlue passengers will be required to wear face masks

Masks are not very easy to get. A lot of people told FOX 13 they were given masks by family members or they made one themselves.

Topher Morrison was running errands while wearing a mask made by his sister-in-law.

"I've been ordering all sorts of masks online and I finally got some that came in but they just, they're not comfortable and they smell, so I've just been using the homemade ones,” Morrison said.

MORE: Publix is now selling their own masks

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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