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Rick Kriseman criticizes Gov. DeSantis at roundtable for disobeying mask mandate, lack of social distancing

DeSantis was in town discussing reopening bars and breweries.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman called out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Thursday afternoon during the Governor’s roundtable at a local brewery.

DeSantis was joined by Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears at the Green Bench Brewing Company in St. Pete to discuss the reopening of bars and breweries across Florida.

In a photo shown from the event, where DeSantis also met with several local brewers, the Governor is sitting in a panel without masks or social distancing.

In response, Kriseman tweeted, “Here’s an example of what not to do, especially in Pinellas County and St. Petersburg, where our mask mandate & policies have led the way in the fight against COVID. Indoors, no masks, no distancing. We believe in science here, governor. We also believe in leading by example.”

Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini responded to Kriseman’s tweet Thursday evening, calling the Mayor an “obnoxious smarmy creep,” as well a tyrant and “imbecile.” The Republican representative for HD 32 also said Kriseman’s tweet is the reason DeSantis “should strip local governments of the power to enact emergency ordinance.”

The Mayor has been vocal about compliance in preventing the spread of COVID-19 through mitigation efforts. In June, Kriseman signed a mask mandate, and was adamant about penalties for non-compliance.

In the same month, Florida banned alcohol consumption at bars to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At the roundtable Thursday, leaders discussed potential reopening plans for bars and breweries.

Kriseman has also voiced concerns over the need for restrictions in order to safely reopen bars and breweries.

At a press conference in early August, the Mayor said he would be comfortable with reopening bars and breweries if they followed similar restrictions as restaurants, enforcing 50% capacity limits and social distancing requirements, as well as requiring all patrons to be seated.

“We know that a lot of our owners and brewery owners have really been struggling to survive with restrictions that they’ve been placed under,” he said at the conference. “What I don’t support is people being in bars that are open and being able to stand about — I think it’s difficult to maintain social distancing in those situations.”

The mask mandate is one of the main measures the Mayor credits for falling positivity rates in Pinellas. Pinellas County currently has 20,028 cases of coronavirus, including 106 new cases confirmed Wednesday. The county’s positivity rate, which has been a primary indicator of spread, has averaged around 3%, exceeding Kriseman’s goal of keeping it below 5%.

Written By

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at kelly@floridapolitics.com.

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