ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – From a waterside restaurant in St. Petersburg, Fla., Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday suspended all local government emergency orders against coronaviruses as he signed a bill that makes his ban permanent COVID-19 vaccine âpassportsâ and limits the authority of cities and counties in future health crises.
“My message is that vaccines protect you. Get vaccinated, then live your life as if you were protected,” DeSantis said at an event at the Big Catch in Salt Creek, a St. Petersburg restaurant. “You don’t have to rub yourself under the Infinitum restrictions.”
During what has been dubbed Travel and Tourism Week, DeSantis announced an executive order suspending local government orders regarding coronavirus precautions and signed an approved Emergency Management Bill (SB 2006). Thursday by the Legislative Assembly.
While the executive order does not prevent companies from requiring customers to socially distance themselves or wear masks, DeSantis said it will convene at the state’s next pardon council meeting to lift the fines. pending cases related to COVID-19 that local governments have imposed on businesses.
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Democrats called the executive order “premature” as deaths in Florida from COVID-19 continue to average around 60 per day, while saying the so-called vaccine passport ban is “strange” because Republicans defend free business. The ban prevents businesses, schools and government agencies from requiring people to show proof of vaccination before entering.
Representative Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said the executive order is yet another intrusion on local governments, while the passport ban does the same for businesses.
âIt’s been an interesting kind of role reversal that we see with Republican leaders, where they keep trying to tell businesses and businesses how to do their jobs and how to run their businesses,â Driskell said. “It’s very strange to me.”
Minority House Co-Leader Evan Jenne D-Dania Beach said the executive order would push companies to lift COVID-19 requirements to avoid confusion.
Jenne added that one of the bright spots in DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic was allowing certain counties, particularly in Southeast Florida, to make their own decisions in the early days of the pandemic.
âIt’s a complete reversal of one of the things I would commend him for,â Jenne said. âHe let places like Dade, Broward, Orange, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Duval (counties) kind of make decisions for themselves on how they wanted to handle this. a lot of deaths from the skyrocket, which of course they eventually did. “
The bill signed by DeSantis on Monday will allow the governor to override local orders during health crises if they are determined to “unnecessarily restrict individual rights or freedoms.”
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“We need to put reasonable controls on government at every local level now that we have seen what can happen when it happens for such a long time,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls of R-Palm. Harbor.
DeSantis issued an April 2 executive order blocking vaccine passports, which he said would create “huge” privacy concerns that could lead people to pass medical information to a “big company.” The bill makes that permanent.
Governor Ron DeSantis signs SB-2006, effective July 1, 2021
House Pandemics & Public Emergencies President 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 invested our governments. “
âThirteen months ago we faced an imminent but largely indecipherable crisis,â Leek said. âWe didn’t know what to expect. None of us could have imagined that governments would order your businesses to shut down and force people to isolate themselves in their homes. You can’t imagine it. Today. , what the once new virus was is less true. We have therapies that work, we have vaccines that save lives. “
DeSantis reported that about 9 million people were vaccinated in the state.
“You have to be wondering if, given this type of vaccine performance, given the performance of monoclonal antibodies, which nobody ever talks about, but these worked really well, given all of this, if you have Still need emergency powers … under these circumstances, so when are you going to be able to go beyond that? âDeSantis continued.
According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.4 million people in Florida have been fully vaccinated, or 29.86% of the population, the 36th best rate among states.
The State Department of Health reported on Monday that nearly 2.6 million people had received the first doses of a two-dose series.
With DeSantis lifting local government controls, Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson R-Trilby said the State Capitol would be fully reopened for a special session on gambling during the week of May 17.
âMake no mistake, families are still struggling with COVID,â Simpson said. âWe have family members who are still dying from COVID. But ultimately you have to weigh the balance between people’s lives and their sanity and the number of suicides and all the things that are wrong by locking our citizens.”
The bill signed by DeSantis will require local emergency orders to be tightly tailored and extended in seven-day increments for up to 42 days. Currently, these orders can be issued initially for seven days and extended indefinitely in seven day increments.
In addition, state agencies will need to develop public health emergency plans by the end of 2022, and the Emergency Management Division will need to stockpile personal protective equipment.