St. Pete businesses surprised by facemask violation notices

More than a week ago, the city of St. Petersburg released a list of more than 80 businesses that Code Enforcement said had at least one employee who wasn’t following the city’s face mask order.

Walt Hoambrecker runs a locally owned carpet store on 22nd Avenue and was surprised to find his business on the list. 

“We were shocked,” he said. “We truly thought we were doing a great job better than the average.”

James Corbett, the director of Code Enforcement, told FOX 13 every businesses included on the list was where a facemask violation was observed, though not everyone has been ticketed. Corbett said the circumstances are reviewed and a citation is possibly mailed out at a later date. 

“We are not picking on anyone. We are trying to make sure that they are safe as well as their customers,” Corbett said. 

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Hoambrecker says his employees do, in fact, wear masks along with taking other precautions -- and he says when Code Enforcement stopped by, they were never told they were doing anything wrong.

“[Code Enforcement] just looked around and on the way out the door he said, ‘I’m here to check for masks; have a nice day,’” Hoambrecker said. 

FOX 13 has heard from other businesses with similar stories and have asked for more transparency from the city. 

“We just ask them please, just try to help us, educate us, we don’t know we are all going into this blind,” Hoambrecker said.

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Mayor Rick Kriseman’s office didn’t have anyone available to talk about this issue Monday. 

Sunday, the mayor doubled down in a Facebook post, saying the city will continue to issue fines until the COVID-19 positivity-percentage rate goes down. 

The fine for violating St. Pete’s facemask ordinance is $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 every time after.