Packed bars, streets in Ybor City shine light on rising number of COVID-19 cases

Ybor City was its usual, crowded self on New Year's Eve. And that's the problem.

"People kind of want to go out and, we have all been inside for forever, so they are just, they are doing their thing."

Dr. Jason Wilson at the University of South Florida tweeted, "Unfortunately, lack of consistent/persistent federal and state public health recommendations led to this photo being taken by the Tampa Bay Times. Prepping for a busy time in a couple of weeks.

Courtesy Tampa Bay Times

"A week after Christmas and New Year, we are going to have a bump in cases, that is just the way this works.," said Dr. Michael Teng of USF Health.

The city of Tampa requires masks to be worn indoors when patrons are unable to social distance, and for business owners to ask customers not wearing them to do so.

TPD released a statement saying, "Leading up to New Year’s Eve, the Tampa Police Department worked in partnership with City of Tampa Code Enforcement to educate business owners regarding face-covering requirements put in place by the city to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"We are pleased that the majority of our residents and businesses take active roles to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We are also aware of video, taken as entertainment establishments were beginning to close, that shows individuals in the street not wearing masks as they prepared to head home. We encourage these individuals to review CDC guidelines and keep up to date on COVID-19 information so they, too, can help slow the spread.

"As we enter the new year, Tampa Police will continue to assist Tampa Code Enforcement in addressing this ongoing public health safety concern."

Code enforcement was not dispatched Thursday night, but the City of Tampa said they would be Friday and Saturday.

They can issue fines.

"That is more people than I would have ever thought come down here during this crisis," said Viktor Schnur of Tampa. "That's amazing. A lot of people aren't wearing their masks either. Some are. That is not good, that's for sure."

In early December, the city said that if bar owners continue to fail to enforce mask orders, more stringent enforcement may be imposed, like capacity limits or even a curfew.

"Some people just don't get it. When we do come out here, we try to come early, avoid the crowds," said Tampa resident John Adams. "A lot of people are tired of it. But you can't give up."

Several bar owners we talked to said they were not interested in commenting on the crowds. One said they do their best in only allowing in the same number of people as there are seats inside.