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St. Pete will join Pinellas County in allowing movie theaters to reopen

Mayor Rick Kriseman said the move follows Gov. DeSantis’ written intent.

St. Petersburg Rick Kriseman will take Pinellas County’s lead on reopening movie theaters, he said Tuesday.

“It is our intention in St. Petersburg to follow Pinellas County who is following written orders of Gov. [Ron] DeSantis,” Kriseman said.

That echoes Pinellas County officials who just before Kriseman spoke defended their decision to allow theaters to reopen.

DeSantis said last Friday his “Full Phase One” reopening did not include movie theaters, but his written executive order did not specifically address them. Previous guidance from his office said movie theaters would be allowed to open at half-capacity in Phase One, which is now fully in effect.

“Right now I’m not aware of any of our movie theaters that are considering opening,” Kriseman said, implying additional action might not be needed.

Speaking from Sunken Gardens in front of a happily dancing Macaw — the park just reopened this week — Kriseman said he’s less concerned with the Phase One reopening than he his the eventual Phase Two.

“I’ve always felt that it was important that every decision we make is driven by data and our ability to consult with health care experts,” Kriseman said.

He said the next phase should happen only after the state has had adequate time to gather data on coronavirus trends through the initial reopening phases before moving toward further relaxing regulations.

Kriseman highlighted several bright spots locally including community testing in the city’s predominately African American community where, of 246 residents tested, only two were positive for COVID-19.

“I have to believe that this is due in part to the overall health of our community and social distancing,” he said.

Kriseman urged residents to remain vigilant and continue wearing face masks or coverings in publics.

He also encouraged local business and restaurants to make facial coverings mandatory for employees.

As of Monday there were 381 reported cases of coronavirus in St. Pete, less than half the more than 1,000 cases countywide. Kriseman said new cases continue to stem from spikes in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, data he said officials are monitoring closely.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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