Throngs of maskless fans celebrate Tampa's Super Bowl win

The Associated Press
Fans cheer during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

TAMPA, Fla. — So much for the mayor's order requiring masks at Super Bowl parties.

Throngs of mostly maskless fans took to the streets and packed sports bars as the clock inside Raymond James Stadium ticked down on a hometown Super Bowl win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

To meet coronavirus protocols, the NFL capped the crowd at under 25,000 in a stadium that normally holds some 66,000 fans. 

But outside the stadium, crowds of fans who weren't wearing masks or practicing social distancing could be seen celebrating the Buccaneers' 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. 

In hopes of curbing so-called super-spreader events, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor had signed an executive order requiring people wear face coverings during the Super Bowl festivities, even while they're outdoors.

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"As I've told everybody we all know how to avoid COVID-19 and that's by simply wearing a mask," Castor told WFLA. "I've been yelling for the Bucs all night long, you can do it with a mask on."

Across Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg, Mayor Rick Kriseman was already unhappy about a maskless party hosted by Rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson in a hangar at Albert Whitted Airport on Friday night. Pictures from the party posted on social media showed a densely packed event with few people wearing masks to protect against spread of the coronavirus.

"This isn't how we should be celebrating the Super Bowl," the mayor tweeted on Saturday. "It's not safe or smart. It's stupid. We're going to take a very close look at this, and it may end up costing someone a lot more than 50 cent." 

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, also warned against turning the Super Bowl into a super spreader, saying before the game that people should "just lay low and cool it."

Florida has recorded 1.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 28,000 deaths, according to state health records. State officials said Sunday that 667,830 people in Florida had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.