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Tampa Bay Area Lawyer Discusses Newly Mandated Face Coverings

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TAMPA BAY (CW44 News At 10) - "I think that the courts will be flooded and I think that's going to be on a case by case basis, which is going to be a disaster," said Edward Reyes, a Tampa Bay attorney.

For the nearly 3 million people living in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties, getting used to face masks in a day or two won't come easily. But now that it's a requirement with enforcement intact, there isn't much room for error either.

(Question: what do you see happening as a result of these orders?)

"Resistance. There's definitely going to be resistance because, I mean, personally, I don't like wearing the mask, I really don't," said Reyes.

Reyes broke down some of the violation details listed in each order. In Pinellas County, violations start at a warning and jump to a fine, to an injunction, then arrest.

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"When you have an injunction, you have two weeks to go in front of a judge and then you have to prove your case, but then the worst they can say is, 'you've got to put your mask on'. To me, this is a cluster! And then, if the person violates the injunction, they can actually get arrested," said Reyes.

In Hillsborough County, business owners could face up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine for face mask violations on site.

"That is a fine great enough that people may not be able to eat because some people are on a very limited budget. It's not like a small slap on the wrist, that's a substantial slap in the face, really," said Reyes.

And in Pasco County, you could be facing a $250 fine for violating that order. But without enforcement, Reyes and other government officials say the orders simply become strong encouragements.

"Warning's don't have teeth if it's just a regular warning. If they just did a civil infraction at $50, 'alright you know what, next time I got to put the mask on'. So it hurts, but it doesn't hurt to the point that it's killing me," said Reyes.

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(Question: how many violations have you seen thus far?)

"Currently, none because it's so new. And I don't think law enforcement also wants to do all the paperwork. Their time could be better valued somewhere else. So I think the majority of people will just give a warning," said Reyes.

And he says, hopefully it stays that way.

"At the end of the day, it's about public health and safety. Even though it's very uncomfortable, if you walk in a crowded place with people you don't know, you should probably wear a mask," said Reyes.

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