Maskless crowds collect in Tampa after the Tremendous Bowl victory

The streets of Tampa, Florida were full of damp night owls until the wee hours of the morning. Many of them ignored requests from medical experts to socialize and wear masks after the Buccaneers knocked out the Kansas City Chiefs at the Super Bowl on Sunday. A couple of scrums broke out.

In one of the more bizarre episodes, a man in a red t-shirt and shorts climbed a small tree in the South Howard neighborhood known as SoHo and rocked back and forth as hundreds of people poked him, a video captured by Juan Carlos Chavez, a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, showed.

The man later appeared to be taken into custody by police after people in the crowd pushed each other, a subsequent video by Mr. Chavez showed. At least one policeman appeared to be thrown to the ground.

According to preliminary statistics released Monday by the Tampa Police Department, a total of four people were arrested at the official Super Bowl venues, including Raymond James Stadium, in the 24 hours that began early Sunday morning.

Another four people were thrown out and two were warned, the authorities said that alcohol was involved in every case.

One of the more notable arrests involved a 31-year-old man who ran onto the field in a pink jersey in the fourth quarter before being attacked by police officers near the goal line. He was charged with trespassing, authorities said.

It was not immediately clear whether police issued quotes for violating a temporary ordinance requiring people to wear masks in several popular outdoor locations in the city.

Tampa Police Department chief Brian Dugan said Monday on Twitter that “the government is trying to keep the economy going, but at the same time we’re trying to keep the virus in check.”

“But we need people who just work together and think about it,” he added, referring to the Super Bowl celebrations.

About two hours after the scuffle near South Howard Avenue, a convoy of police cars drove through the street to disperse the crowd. Smoke rose in another video captured by Olivia Steen, a local reporter.

In Ybor City, another part of Tampa known for its nightlife, a sea of ​​people partied late into the night. Few people are seen wearing masks in videos. It wasn’t immediately clear if any effort had been made to disperse the crowd. A television reporter, Ryan Smith, characterized the scene as “a huge dance floor”.

The scene of thousands of fans hitting the streets of the city and in front of Raymond James Stadium set an alternate universe to be seen from the constant warnings from the country’s top health authorities of the risks of the Super Bowl as a superspreader event deviates. There have also been growing concerns that variants of the coronavirus, including one first found in the UK, have become more transmissible.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said at a press conference Monday that she had not seen how the game itself could have been a super-spreader event because “everyone was scattered around the stadium.”

When asked about large crowds celebrating on the streets after the game, with many people not wearing masks, she said that transmitting the virus “would always be a problem” but “if we get the majority of people to do it can wear their masks, then we can contain and contain the spread. “

Ms. Castor was optimistic, saying that after similar celebrations over the past year, the city had run out of spikes in some cases. “You will find some who do not wear masks,” she said, “but the majority that I saw wore masks.”

She also said there were “very few” clashes in the city among “tens of thousands of people across the city”.

“I’m proud of our community, but these bad few actors will be identified and the Tampa Police Department will take care of them,” she said.

She added that the city had distributed more than 200,000 masks and 8,000 volunteers were handing out masks, reminding people to wear them.

“Overall, I’m happy with the compliance,” she said.

Inside the stadium, the home stadium of the Buccaneers, which normally seats around 66,000 people, the capacity for the game was limited to 22,000 spectators. The empty seats were filled with cardboard cut-outs from fans who couldn’t attend the Super Bowl but who paid $ 100 to show their photos.

Towards the end of the game, a man in a pink jersey and black shorts stormed across the field. The man, Yuri Andrade, 31, of Boca Raton, Florida, was arrested at the stadium for trespassing, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. He was admitted to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Prison Monday morning and released on a $ 500 loan.

Outside the stadium, social distancing and wearing masks seemed far less of a priority. Maskless fans in jerseys with hatchbacks wave Buccaneer’s flags and listen to music.

A group of fans surrounded a Kansas City team bus after the game, which the Buccaneers won 9-31 against the Chiefs, last year’s champions. Many of those in that crowd didn’t seem to be wearing masks either. Officers on motorcycles cleared the crowd for the bus to move.

Johnny Diaz, Benjamin Hoffman and Elena Bergeron contributed to the coverage.

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