DeSantis Scraps COVID Mandates

Governor uses legislation and executive orders to end Florida requirements
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2021 4:30 PM CDT
Florida to Drop Emergency Mandates
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks Monday at a bill-signing ceremony in St. Petersburg.   (Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Saying it's not necessary for the state "to be policing people at this point," Gov. Ron DeSantis moved Monday to cancel Florida's COVID-19 protocols. He gave widespread coronavirus vaccinations as a reason, CBS reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 15.5 million shots have been administered in Florida, which has a population of 21.5 million. Supply now exceeds demand, DeSantis said. The governor suspended local emergency orders by executive action, and signed legislation limiting local governments' ability to enact restrictions, per USA Today. The bill also permanently bans "vaccine passports," which DeSantis had done by executive order earlier. The legislation becomes law July 1; the executive orders take effect immediately.

In explaining his reasoning, the Republican said, "I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do" in a bill-signing ceremony in St. Petersburg. "I think if you are saying that you are really saying you don't believe in the vaccines, you don't believe in the data, you don't believe in science." Businesses will still be allowed to require masks and enforce social distancing. A House Democratic leader predicted confusion over what's allowed and what isn't. New cases of the coronavirus are dropping week-to-week in Florida, though thousands of infections are still being reported. Overall, according to Johns Hopkins University data, Florida has had more than 2.2 million coronavirus cases, the third-highest total in the US. The state's number of deaths, more than 35,000, ranks fourth, per CNBC. (Read more Ron DeSantis stories.)

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