Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just effectively put an end to the remainder of Florida’s COVID-19 restrictions signing a bill suspending all local pandemic emergency mandates effective July 1.
DeSantis signed Senate Bill 2006, passed by Florida state lawmakers last month granting DeSantis the ability to override local emergency orders. The bill also includes a ban on vaccine passports that would levy fines of $5,000 per violation.
“I’m going to sign the bill. It’s effective July 1. I’ll also sign an executive order pursuant to that bill invalidating all remaining local emergency COVID orders effective on July 1,” the Republican governor said in a news conference in St. Petersburg on Monday.
“But then, to bridge the gap between then and now, I’m going to suspend, under my executive power, the local emergency orders as it relates to COVID.”
DeSantis called his executive orders the “evidence-based thing to do,” adding that proponents of lockdowns “really are saying you don’t believe in the vaccines, you don’t believe in the data, you don’t believe in the science.” He added: “We’ve embraced the vaccines. We’ve embraced the science on it.”
“Over the last year we’ve avoided protracted lockdowns and school closures in Florida because I have refused to take the same approach as other lockdown Governors. This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses,” DeSantis said in a statement.
The order suspending local emergency mandates only affects governments, not businesses.
“In terms of what a supermarket or some of them choose to do, a Disney theme park, this does not deal with that one way or another,” DeSantis said. “It’s simply emergency orders and emergency penalties on individual businesses.”
DeSantis who already banned vaccine passports late in March has long been a vocal opponent of them, saying they would create two classes of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
“You have a right to participate in society, go to a restaurant, movie, a ballgame, all these things without having to divulge this type of information,” DeSantis said on Monday.
“In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision,” he added.
DeSantis’ brilliant navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned him into one of the de facto leaders of the Republican party alongside former President Trump.
The Florida Gov. has been praised for his handling of the pandemic in the state contrasted to the overly strict lockdown measures the Democrats have enforced in their states. He has argued that restrictions in other states are not backed up by science and constitute government overreach.
Other Liberal run places like New York state and some municipalities in California have even gone as far as to embrace passport-like systems for sporting events, concerts, and other events. Some European countries and Israel have proposed nationwide passport systems, while Canadian officials have indicated they will institute a vaccine passport program for Canadians planning to leave the country.
“Absolutely,” Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu told the CBC in response to a question about such a system being implemented. “First of all, Canadians need to be able to have the right kind of certification for international travel.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups have criticized vaccine passport-type systems, saying they would be potentially invasive of individuals’ privacy and would restrict individuals who don’t have smartphones that can display an app showing whether they’re vaccinated or not.
Author: Martin Reynolds