DeSantis ends all remaining COVID restrictions in Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation and an executive order that will suspend all COVID-19 emergency orders issued by local governments in Florida.

“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do,” DeSantis said. “I think folks that are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, then you’re really saying you don’t believe in the vaccines.”

The law, SB 2006, limits any future emergency orders to last up to 42 days. It also gives the governor the authority to overrule cities and counties at any time, and city and county commissioners the power to overrule mayors.

In addition to signing the law, which goes into effect July 1, DeSantis also signed a pair of executive orders that would immediately end existing coronavirus measures enacted by local governments, including all mask mandates.

DeSantis says the legislature sought to protect Floridians from a possible overreach of power from the governor during future crises. “I think the Legislature looked and said, ‘Well, okay, what if we were in a California situation?’” DeSantis said, referring to Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has continued many of the state’s COVID restrictions. “What would the Legislature’s ability to be? And so they put safeguards for the people of Florida.'”

“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” he added, “but I think this creates a structure that’s going to be a little bit more respectful, I think, of people’s businesses, jobs, schools, and personal freedom.”

The Florida Department of Education clarified the implications of the new law and executive order on existing mask mandates for students and faculty imposed by school districts. The order “only impacts city and county governments, and does NOT impact school districts and individual schools,” the department said. Neither order impacts “any school district’s policies for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.”

The bill, which takes effect on July 1, also bans all businesses from requiring patrons to show “vaccination passports,” or proof of vaccination for entrance. Private businesses may still require masks, DeSantis added, saying it wouldn’t affect mask requirements “in terms of what a supermarket (chooses) to do, or a Disney theme park.”

The move comes a week after the CDC issued new guidance for mask-wearing after someone has fully received the COVID-19 vaccine. Fully vaccinated people are now allowed to take part in certain activities without wearing a mask, including spending time outdoors, alone, or with members of their household.