The City of Tampa is extending their “Lift Up Local” program through September 7th, 2021. According to the city, after September 7th, establishments participating in the program will have 30 days to restore to normal conditions and be subject to all applicable rules and regulations.
“We want to lift up our local businesses through this recovery and empower them to re-open responsibly, by giving our local business owners as many tools and as much space as possible to safely serve guests, we can work together to protect our workforce, our customers, and our community. Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we need their help to safely and successfully reopen our city and get back to all the things we love--one step at a time.”, says City of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.
The Lift Up Local Economic Recovery Plan temporarily allows bars, restaurants, and retail businesses in Tampa to establish outdoor capacity on adjacent privately-owned and public space without having to go through a full application and permitting process or pay a fee.
For outdoor seating, no permits, applications, or fees are required, but establishments must comply with all guidance and rules outlined by the city. For tents, parklets, or other structures, pre-approvals are required, but are typically performed same-day via the City’s new Fast-Pass process.
Tampa made headlines early in the pandemic when Mayor Jane Castor announced the “Life Up Local” program that expanded restaurants, bars, and retail into outdoor capacity in an effort to keep businesses from suffering during the pandemic and to maintain social distancing.
Full details on the program can be found at tampa.gov/liftuplocal.
Florida has not been as restrictive during the pandemic as other states with most businesses remaining open despite a short block on bars during the summer of 2020 by the state. Many businesses are currently operating at full capacity, although Hillsborough County and Tampa continue to have mask policies and social distancing rules in effect until the pandemic subsides.
The American Rescue Plan passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law on Thursday, March 11th and will direct more federal aid towards Tampa and Hillsborough County. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Hillsborough County is to receive $285 million from the COVID-19 relief act, while the city of Tampa will get $80 million. Plant City is scheduled to receive $16.7 million and Temple Terrace, $11.9 million.”
Many cities are reeling from a loss in tax revenue from the pandemic and will try to cover budget holes with the stimulus, but businesses will probably also seek some relief locally, in addition to additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and other business grants written into the bill like $28.6 billion directed towards struggling restaurants and bars.
State of Pandemic Locally in Tampa
To date, there have been 114,724 cases of COVID-19 in Hillsborough County and 1,566 deaths reported. 89,269 have been vaccinated so far on the first dose and 93,096 have received their second dose. Cases are steadily declining although hospitalizations are rising.
The medical community in Tampa Bay recently sent out a statement on when it might be appropriate to life mask rules locally.
The leaders said the incidence rate (the rate of occurrence of new cases) should be” at or below three new cases per 100,000 population per day on a seven-day rolling average over four consecutive seven-day periods (two incubation periods) as reported by Florida Department of Health (FDOH) each Sunday”, which means no more than an average of 45 new cases a day in Hillsborough, 14 new cases a day in Pasco and 30 new cases a day in Pinellas.
Leaders also test positivity rate should be 3% or less on a rolling seven-day average for four consecutive weeks (two incubation periods) as reported by FDOH each Sunday. Currently that number is 7.54% on a rolling 14 day average in Hillsborough County.
Tampa Bay has much work to do in order to get these numbers under control, but a sharp increase in vaccinations may help to lead toward these goals and the fight against COVID-19 is still ahead.
Sources: Tampa Bay Times
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