By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended all local-government coronavirus emergency orders on Monday as he signed a bill that makes permanent his ban on COVID-19 vaccine “passports” and limits the authority of cities and counties in future health-care crises.
“My message is that the vaccines protect you. Get vaccinated, and then live your life as if you are protected,” DeSantis said during an event at the Big Catch at Salt Creek, a St. Petersburg restaurant. “You don’t have to chafe under restrictions infinitum.”
DeSantis announced an executive order suspending local-government orders about coronavirus precautions and signed an emergency-management bill (SB 2006) approved Thursday by the Legislature.
While the executive order won’t block businesses from requiring customers to socially distance or wear masks, DeSantis said he will call at the next state clemency board meeting for lifting outstanding COVID-19-related fines that local governments have imposed on businesses.
Democrats called the executive order “premature” as deaths in Florida from COVID-19 continue to average around 60 a day, while saying the so-called vaccine passport-ban is “strange” as Republicans advocate for business freedom. The ban prevents businesses, schools and government agencies from requiring people to show proof of vaccination before gaining entry.
Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said the executive order is a further intrusion into local governments, while the passport-ban does the same to businesses.
“It’s been an interesting sort of role reversal that we’re seeing with Republican leadership, where they keep trying to tell businesses and corporations how to do their job and how to run their business,” Driskell said. “It’s very strange to me.”
House Minority Co-leader Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, said the executive order will pressure businesses to lift COVID-19 requirements to avoid confusion.
Jenne added that one of the bright spots in DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic was allowing some counties, particularly in Southeast Florida, to make their own decisions in the early days of the pandemic.
“This is a complete reversal of one of the things that I would actually praise him for,” Jenne said. “He let places like Dade, Broward, Orange, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Duval (counties), kind of make some decisions on their own about how they wanted to handle this. And it really kept not just the amount of cases down, it kept a lot of the deaths from really skyrocketing, which they of course eventually did.”
The bill signed Monday by DeSantis will allow the governor to override local orders during health crises if they are determined to “unnecessarily restrict individual rights or liberties.”
“We need to put reasonable checks on government at every local level now that we have seen what can play out when this happens for such an extended period of time,” House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said.
DeSantis on April 2 issued an executive order blocking vaccine passports, which he said would create “huge” privacy issues that could result in people handing over medical information to a “big corporation.” The bill makes that permanent.
House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Chairman Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, said the bill prepares Florida for the next public-health emergency, while the COVID-19 crisis has provided “a good reminder of the extraordinary power with which we have vested our governments.”
“Thirteen months ago, we were facing a looming but largely indecipherable crisis,” Leek said. “We didn’t know what was coming at us. None of us could have imagined that governments would order shutdowns of your businesses and force people into isolation into their homes. You couldn’t imagine it. Today, what the once novel virus was is less so. We have therapeutics that work, we have vaccinations that save lives.”
DeSantis pointed to about 9 million people being vaccinated in the state.
“You have to ask yourself, if given that type of performance of the vaccine, given how great the monoclonal antibodies have done, which nobody ever talks about, but those have done very well, given all that, if that still you need emergency powers under those circumstances, then when are you going to be able to move beyond it?” DeSantis continued.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 6.4 million people in Florida have been fully vaccinated, 29.86 percent of the population, the 36th-best rate among states.
The state Department of Health reported Monday that nearly 2.6 million people have received the first doses of a two-dose series.
With DeSantis lifting local government orders, Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said the state Capitol will be fully reopened for a special session on gambling during the week of May 17.
“Make no mistake about it, families are still dealing with COVID,” Simpson said. “We have family members still dying of COVID. But you have to ultimately weigh the balance of people’s lives and their mental health and and the amount of suicides and all of the things that go wrong by locking our citizens down.”
The bill signed by DeSantis will require local emergency orders to be narrowly tailored and to be extended in seven-day increments for a maximum duration of 42 days. Currently, such orders can be issued initially for seven days and extended indefinitely in seven-day increments.
Also, state agencies will be required to develop by the end of 2022 public health emergency plans, and the Division of Emergency Management will have to stockpile personal protective equipment.
Jerry Kimbro apparently feels encouraging a mob to force businesses to conform to their beliefs is acceptable. I’m sure you and your pals will look sporty in your starched brown shirts, Jerry.
I think it will take a people’s militia going store to store to force some of these
paranoid businesses from these tyrannical mask mandates.
Publix says it’s sticking with the masks. But I’ve been told by employees that it’s not really enforced. As more and more customers stop wearing them Publix will probably let the mask thing go. Walmart doesn’t really enforce masks either.
It is easier to say where I was required to wear a mask in Tallahassee then not. Market Square Liquors next to Southern Seafood, Southern Seafood and Ace Hardware near the Huntington Rock. I have been told that Target requires a mask but why would you shop anywhere that allows men in the women’s bathroom.
Dennis Barton: Not reading things right is a great way to get trespassed from private property or arrested for trespassing.
Now lets see what happens next.You know the county will appeal it. Also what will Costco and Target do? Thankfully I moved from this liberal nightmare of a city to a place I call Free America!
Yeah it always turns out well when populist politicians make medical decisions for people and businesses.
A big thank you to The Gov. & elected officials who made this a great legislative session.
Florida State Senator Shevrin Jones illegally and openly incites a riot and everyone is breaking their necks to look the other way. Everyone must be thinking if its OK for Maxine Waters to do it then its OK for Florida Senator Shevrin Jones to do it.
Its not OK.
The comment section in here is something else… “maskholes”? NaziCrats? really? what is wrong with you people. I know you don’t talk like this in real life. Grow up
Thank you Ron DeSantis,
Can you possibly pass legislation that says , all people that run for a local or state Government positions must pass a , common sense and reality test in order to be elected and it doesn’t matter how much money you have, you cannot win a election just because you have the most money..
It takes hundreds of leftist to force feed laws that destroy, lives , Businesses and futures of good hard working citizens, and only one , smart , common sense Governor to reverse the politically driven wrong that the left has tried to force upon the people..If Ron DeSantis, Does not deserve the right to be a , president then how in Gods green earth do we have people like , Pelosi Governing the Congress as the speaker of the Democratic Party??
This will undoubtedly make national headlines, and drive the current NaziCrat Regime absolutely bat-crap crazy. No doubt Dr. Joseph Mengele Frauchi will even weigh-in. Fear, propaganda, and mandates are the primary tools used by the NaziCrats in their attempts to force the masses to comply with their insanity.
The China Bio-Weapon Flu Scamdemic numbers have been fudged from the get-go. There was no greater display of the disconnect from reality than a half-empty vaccinated session of Congress, all fart-distancing and wearing face diapers, as they listen to CCP puppet and Dementia patient berate our Republic and share their plans to destroy it.
“My Body; My Choice”… remember that?…it’s not just for killing innocent babies.
Whoa…this is huge! If I read this right the signs on Publix and Home Depot that say “local government requires you to wear a mask in doors in Tallahassee”, or words to that effect are no longer valid and we can walk in and out of these and other such stores sans masks and suffer only the shaming look of the maskholes who apparently really enjoy government control of their lives.
Local Tallahassee leftist Mayor Daily AKA Mayor Flintstone is not gonna like his power over his local subjects stripped away by a Governor who…gasp…(Flintstone panties bunching up)…is liked by Trump the man with…gasp…mean tweets!!