Tampa Bay — (previously published May 2020; much is now open but not cruising).
Recommendations from around the country and state include the following standard practices we can expect to see and maintain.
In Hillsborough County wearing face masks is strongly encouraged but not mandated in high-traffic areas particularly where public distancing is not possible. Proper social distancing is essential. If you’re engaging in essential services and businesses, masks are recommended. For details on mask usage, see Hillsborough County’s Emergency Policy Group’s latest update.
Readers may hear that arrival times at airports require up to four hours prior to your flight. In actuality because the airports are at new lows for travel, Tampa International is still requiring two-hour arrival times prior to your flight. Other area airports report similar lows in travel from April’s data.
You can expect all high-contact areas to be decontaminated, only McDonald’s and one coffee shop are open at Tampa International, and you must wear a mask at all times in the airport and plane. Also airlines have suspended on-board flight services which includes all drinks, water, alcohol, food and snacks.
Tickets were handed out today in Holmes Beach to visitors staying in a vacation rental. While rentals are listed online, Florida has not yet given clearance and violators are being ticketed.
Here are some of the recommended changes by the National Association of Restaurants for business opening during Phase One and beyond.
There will be continued move towards no contact with high-contact items such as the leather billfold that holds the tab. Salt and pepper shakers and condiments will be disposable, as well as menus, disposable silverware and plates.
Outdoor seating is being added and ventilation requirements are changing. Restaurants will be amping up automation and offering more high-tech applications for POS services. Buffet-style offerings are out for now.
From witnessing events and businesses open in the tri-county area, readers can expect everything to be continually sanitized with social distancing and 25 percent capacity indoors and expanded outdoor seating, masks and screenings.
Patrons may call or visit restaurant websites for more information about each restaurant’s current operating hours and common practices. Diners interviewed all have witnessed good service and continuous sanitizing in place, and common dining cutlery, dishes and menus are being used. Space is limited.
Grocery stores will continue to operate at the minimum required of patrons, continuous sanitizing, and masks can be worn by choice. If you are ill it is advised that you do stay home. Masks are optional but required for employees. One resident reaching for a grocery cart recently spoke of being grabbed around the arm by a man who yelled at her, “Where’s your mask?”
Nationally, the advice about public transportation is to not use it unless absolutely necessary. When using buses and trains, it’s advisable to wear a mask and gloves if you feel you cannot properly distance yourself from others and high-contact areas.
Coming will be an increas ridership in taxi cabs and services such as Uber and Lyft is expected with changes including the use of plastic shields in vehicles with protocols for disinfecting the vehicles and mask recommendations plus screenings.
Royal Caribbean extended its hold on cruising through June 11th with hopes to resume on a limited scale after while Carnival announced it will begin offering travel in August. For more information about the cruise industry, see http://www.cruiseindustry.com.
Beaches and Local Parks
Pinellas county offers a dashboard online service to reserve parking spots and space at the beaches. See the website at www.pscoweb.com. Since opening on May 4th, the beaches continue to be widely popular with beach goers maintaining social distance. Beaches do quickly reach capacity and will be closed to additional traffic. As the area looks forward to honoring Memorial Day, you can expect to see much busier roads and traffic to all the beach access areas.
In Apollo Beach, the public park on the Bay remains closed as is the dog park and other park facilities on Gulf and Sea Blvd. At Simmons Park in Ruskin, only the boat ramp is available with hours 8 am – 6:30 pm.
The beach at Little Harbor remains closed and patrolled.
Stores are opening to 25 percent occupancy including Pet Supermarket in Sun City Center where hand sanitizer is mandatory at the door, and plastic shields are up at the registers. You can expect to see similar practices at the larger retail stores.