“Is my favorite downtown restaurant open for business?”
“Can I kick up some sand at Clearwater Beach?”
“How about treating the kids to a day at the zoo… or catching a ballgame at Tropicana Field?”
As the vaccine rolls out and things edge (just a little) closer to normal, many Tampa locals want to know what’s safe and where they can go to shake off the year-long lockdown.
And as the city begins to (slowly) stretch its legs, #bizleisure blogger Josh Vignona provides a brief look at what’s open and how to ease back into the pre-pandemic lifestyle.
But first, let’s look at what’s making this reopen possible, most notably:
The Vaccine in Florida
While the beginning may have been a little sluggish, Florida’s recent vaccine push continues to gain traction across the state.
As of late March, nearly 25% of the state’s 22 million residents have received the COVID vaccine.
And of the four million Florida residents 65 and older, about 75% are now inoculated.
What’s more: Vaccine eligibility for the 40+ age group began on March 29th and extended to all state residents 18 and over just a week later.
And while Josh Vignona knows that enhanced vaccine access has yet to eliminate the danger or the need for proper safety precautions, the rapid rollout provides some welcome news for people and businesses across the Tampa area.
The Great Tampa Reopening: What to Know
Of course, many Tampa attractions and businesses started the “reopening” process last May, providing access to patrons in line with state and local capacity and safety requirements.
But as vaccine numbers rise and cases trend downward, local organizations, venues and others continue to readapt their approach, including:
Tampa Ballparks & Sports Teams
As of now:
- The Tampa Bay Rays plan to allow 9,000 fans to attend Opening Day (April 9 vs. NYY) and subsequent home games. This amounts to about 20% of Tropicana Field capacity.
- As the Spring Training home of the New York Yankees, George M. Steinbrenner Field (aka Florida’s Yankee Stadium), will host about 2,400 fans (25% capacity) for each pre-season game. The same holds true for each Tampa Tarpons (Single A) home game.
- Hometown hockey champs the Tampa Bay Lightning are one of the few NHL teams to allow in-person fans this season. Between 3,900 and 4,000 (23% capacity) may attend each home matchup at Amalie Arena.
- The NFL-Champion Tampa Bay Bucs hosted about 25,000 football fans at Raymond James Stadium for Superbowl fifty-five (LV), more than a third of the stadium’s 74,000 capacity.
Most Tampa restaurants officially resumed in-person dining in June 2020.
And as Josh Vignona knows, Tampa’s mayor announced a return to 100% restaurants and bar capacity last September.
Currently, there no interior capacity limits in place.
So, while spacing and mask requirements remain, you are free to dine in at any of your favorite Tampa restaurants, including:
- Ciro’s Tampa
- Ocean Prime
- Rooster & the Till
- Front Porch
- Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
- Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food
- Bern’s Steak House
- Frenchy’s Rockaway Grille
- Metro Diner
- La Teresita
- Meat Market
- Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café
- And more
Most public beaches in Tampa and Hillsborough County are now open from 8am to sunset. (Important: COVID safety and distancing rules apply to all beach activities).
This means you may now dig your toes in the sand and plant your parasol at any Tampa area beach, including Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Caladesi Island, Fort DeSoto Beach, Cypress Point Park, Ben T. Davis Beach, Picnic Island Park, Davis Islands Seaplane Basin, East Tampa Beach, Sunset Beach and more.
Please note: Much like other parts of the state, Tampa continues to experience a record surge of travelers and beachgoers for 2021 Spring Break, raising concerns about social distancing and public health. Josh Vignona recommends exercising caution and common sense when visiting local beaches in the weeks and months ahead.
Popular Tampa Attractions
Many popular attractions in and around Tampa are also open to the public, though some locations may limit access based on internal policies and capacity.
Some of Josh Vignona’s favorites include:
- The Florida Aquarium
- Glazer Children’s Museum (by reservation)
- Busch Gardens theme and Amusement Park (limited capacity)
- Adventure Island
- Raymond James Stadium
- Amalie Arena
- Tropicana Field
- Dinosaur World
- Sparkman Wharf
- Sponge Docks
- Ybor City
- ZooTampa at Lowry Park (reduced capacity; available by reservation)
- Fort De Soto Park
- Henry B. Plant Museum
- Tampa Riverwalk
- Salvador Dali Museum (The Dali)
For information on City of Tampa COVID protocols, safety measures and more, click here.Want to learn more about Josh Vignona and the #bizleisure lifestyle? Follow Vignona on Facebook and Twitter today.