TAMPA -- City council postponed action in the cases of four bars facing possible suspension of their alcoholic beverage licenses over enforcement of the mask ordinance, while finding a fourth responsible but choosing not to pursue sanctions.
Hearings for the Ritz Ybor and Prana Ybor were postponed to March 8th. Council heard evidence in the case of the Purple Heart bar on 15th Street but deadlocked on a 3-3 vote with Councilman Luis Viera absent. That case will be revisited for a vote March 4th when Viera is scheduled to be present. During the Purple Heart hearing, council members questioned some of the evidence presented by code enforcement. The Purple Heart's lawyer questioned whether code officers were singling out Ybor City bars as opposed to other areas of the city such as New Tampa, getting an officer to acknowledge that they visited Ybor bars on their own initiative but only responded in other areas when receiving a complaint.
Council found that 7th + Grove was in violation of the mask rule but voted not to suspend its liquor license because of corrective action.
Opponents of the mask rule protested outside City Hall Monday, and some spoke at the hearing during public comment time. Speakers accused the council of overreach and said the moves against bars were all about power, one calling COVID no worse than the common cold.
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