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St. Pete will issue citations to crowds of 10 or more in city parks

Margie Manning

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Mayor Rick Kriseman

St. Petersburg parks remain open for now, but Mayor Rick Kriseman says the city is prepared to take action against big groups of people who gather in the parks.

Groups of 10 or more will be cited for violating municipal ordinances, Kriseman said, during a Monday afternoon update on city actions to contain the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.

“The parks are open for running, jogging, cycling and fresh air. They are not open for group gatherings,” Kriseman said on the Facebook Live update. “Per the county’s order, we have closed our playgrounds and our exercise zones and we ask you stay away from them. That means you don’t climb the fence we put up around them so your kids can play on the playground or you can use the fitness zones. Don’t do it. That’s why the fence is there, folks. So if 10 or more of you are together, you will receive a municipal ordinance violation. The easiest way to not get one, is just don’t do it.”

Kriseman said he does not want to close the parks, “but if you don’t follow the social distancing rules you may give me no choice.”

As of the mayor’s 4 p.m. update, there were more than 126 confirmed coronavirus cases in Pinellas County, with at least 24 in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg, and all of Pinellas County, have been under a “Safer at Home” order since last week.

Kriseman repeated earlier criticism of Gov. Ron DeSantis, for not issuing a statewide stay at home order. On Monday morning, DeSantis said he would sign an executive order, urging residents of four southeast Florida counties to stay at home through mid-May. DeSantis said the action would get all four counties operating “off the same sheet of music.”

“We need 67 counties working off the same sheet of music. The short-term economic pain it will cause is worth the lives it will save and will actually help our economy recover more quickly in the long term,” Kriseman said.

Kriseman said he has not heard from DeSantis during the crisis, although he has talked to Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, who served in the state legislature with Kriseman.

“Back when Rick Scott  was governor, he and I may not have gotten along or agreed on every issue that came before him that impacted us here in St. Petersburg. But the one thing he always did if there was an emergency facing us, if we had a hurricane bearing down on us, Gov. Scott always picked up the phone and he always called me to say, ‘Mayor I just wanted to let you know I’m here for you. Let me know what you need,’ and I appreciated that he did that,” Kriseman said. “To date, Gov. DeSantis has not done that and it’s very disappointing.”

In other updates:

• The city is making progress on a planned new “Fighting Chance Fund” to help small businesses in the city. Kriseman expects to announce details this week.

• All in-person city services have been suspended at the Municipal Services Center.

• The city is working on the technology to hold online City Council meetings.

• The city has not cancelled the opening date for the St. Pete Pier, but “everything is fluid” and the city will continue to monitor the situation.

The city has a website with details on city actions and other information. Click here.

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