(FiveNation.com)- What remained of Florida’s COVID-19 restrictions are no longer.
On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis suspended the remaining restrictions in Florida by signing an executive order. He said it was “the evidence-based thing to do,” citing the large availability of vaccines throughout the state.
DeSantis, a rising star in the Republican Party, made the announcement while attending a press conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Monday. While there, he was signing a bill that allows the governor of the state to overrule any local emergency orders. That power goes into effect on July 1.
In doing so, he also signed a separate executive order that would remove all local COVID-19 restrictions starting July 1. He explained that he signed the first executive order to “bridge the gap” between today and when the law goes into effect on July 1.
“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do. I think folks that are saying that they need to be policing people at this point — if you’re saying that, you really are saying you don’t believe in the vaccines, you don’t believe in the data, you don’t believe in the science.
“Given the situation we find ourselves in, given that the legislature spoke very clearly about this, given the fact that we have widespread availability of vaccines, that the vaccines are effective, I think … the fact is we’re no longer in a state of emergency.”
Last week, DeSantis extended Florida’s state of emergency for another 60 days. The state has been under a state of emergency due to the pandemic since last March.
DeSantis said the emergency orders are “not justifiable” and “extraordinary” at this time during the pandemic, since there is a “surplus” of vaccines available. The governor also clarified that his executive orders only apply to government orders. They don’t apply to rules that are enforced by businesses, such as mask requirements indoors.
“We’re going to be able to handle it. People are going to be able to make decisions, and they have the wherewithal to be able to protect themselves with vaccine if they want.”
The bill that DeSantis signed, Senate Bill 2006, makes it more difficult for any local government in Florida to issue emergency orders of their own. Any such order would have to be tailored narrowly. They also could only be extended for one-week periods, and have a maximum of 42 days overall. Before the bill, there was no time limit to the extensions.
Some Democrats in the state government slammed the decision. Rick Kriseman, the mayor of St. Petersburg, tweeted:
“Today, in preempting both local governments AND businesses from keeping their establishments safe, Ron DeSantis decided he cares not about public health, but power. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans at least pretended to be pro-business and for less government.”
At the same time, many businesses applauded DeSantis’ decision in removing the restrictions and letting them get back to somewhat of a normal way of life. They feel, like many others, that the state no longer needs to be the ones making the decisions about what should and shouldn’t be allowed.