TAMPA BAY (CW44 News At 10) – “I think that the courts will be flooded and I think that’s going to be on a case by case basis, which is going to be a disaster,” said Edward Reyes, a Tampa Bay attorney.READ MORE: Officials Investigating Two Possible Monkeypox Cases In Florida
For the nearly 3 million people living in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties, getting used to face masks in a day or two won’t come easily. But now that it’s a requirement with enforcement intact, there isn’t much room for error either.
(Question: what do you see happening as a result of these orders?)
“Resistance. There’s definitely going to be resistance because, I mean, personally, I don’t like wearing the mask, I really don’t,” said Reyes.
Reyes broke down some of the violation details listed in each order. In Pinellas County, violations start at a warning and jump to a fine, to an injunction, then arrest.
“When you have an injunction, you have two weeks to go in front of a judge and then you have to prove your case, but then the worst they can say is, ‘you’ve got to put your mask on’. To me, this is a cluster! And then, if the person violates the injunction, they can actually get arrested,” said Reyes.
In Hillsborough County, business owners could face up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine for face mask violations on site.READ MORE: Pinellas County Releases New Evacuation Zones
“That is a fine great enough that people may not be able to eat because some people are on a very limited budget. It’s not like a small slap on the wrist, that’s a substantial slap in the face, really,” said Reyes.
And in Pasco County, you could be facing a $250 fine for violating that order. But without enforcement, Reyes and other government officials say the orders simply become strong encouragements.
“Warning’s don’t have teeth if it’s just a regular warning. If they just did a civil infraction at $50, ‘alright you know what, next time I got to put the mask on’. So it hurts, but it doesn’t hurt to the point that it’s killing me,” said Reyes.
(Question: how many violations have you seen thus far?)
“Currently, none because it’s so new. And I don’t think law enforcement also wants to do all the paperwork. Their time could be better valued somewhere else. So I think the majority of people will just give a warning,” said Reyes.
And he says, hopefully it stays that way.MORE NEWS: Tampa Bay's Housing Market Sees Intense Bidding Wars
“At the end of the day, it’s about public health and safety. Even though it’s very uncomfortable, if you walk in a crowded place with people you don’t know, you should probably wear a mask,” said Reyes.