The mayor of Tampa on Monday expressed frustration over a growing number of videos emerging showing crowds of Buccaneers fans celebrating the team's Super Bowl win while not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
“It is a little frustrating because we have worked so hard,” Mayor Jane Castor said during a news conference. “At this point in dealing with COVID-19, there is a level of frustration when you see that.”
Days before the game, Castor put in place an order mandating people in the city's downtown "Entertainment District" and in the "Event Zone" near Raymond James Stadium wear a face covering at all times. The order came with a fine of up to $500 for noncompliance.
"We are incredibly excited to host a fun and safe Super Bowl here in Tampa — but we need everyone to do their part," Castor said at the time while implementing the mandate. "We want fans to feel confident knowing that when they come out to celebrate Super Bowl LV, they can do so safely in a city that takes this pandemic seriously."
Yet hundreds of people crammed into packed bars and restaurants to watch Sunday's game, many of them spilling into the streets once the Buccaneers had clinched a victory.
Photos and videos taken across South Tampa showed fans hugging and jumping all over one another, dancing in the streets, chanting and screaming with no masks on.
In Tampa's SoHo area, a cluster of maskless Bucs fans turn a celebration into a dangerous scene, as captured by our reporter. Officers get into the middle of the crowd, appearing overwhelmed before taking a person into custody.— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) February 8, 2021
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Officials in the greater Tampa region have said they were concerned about the public health consequences resulting from massive parties and concerts planned around Super Bowl week.
"This isn't how we should be celebrating the Super Bowl," the mayor of St. Petersburg tweeted over the weekend reacting to news of a rap concert put on by 50 Cent. "It's not safe or smart. It's stupid. We're going to take a very close look at this, and it may end up costing someone a lot more than 50 Cent."
Castor told Kaiser Health News that before the Super Bowl came to town, the city had experienced few issues when it came to mask wearing.
“We are very happy with compliance,” she said. “It’s unusual to see people without masks inside.”
The mayor said the Buccaneers will participate in an official celebration of their win later in the week.
“This win was from the Buccaneer team but this win was for our entire community,” Castor said. “They deserve to be able to celebrate with the team. Everybody will be able to participate and participate safely.”