Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is taking executive action to suspend all local COVID-19 emergency mandates immediately and is issuing an executive order to outlaw all local COVID-19 emergency mandates in the state effective July 1.
DeSantis cited the ample availability of vaccines in the Sunshine State and said supply has now eclipsed demand. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 20.9 million doses have been distributed to the state, and 15.5 million shots have been administered in a state with a population of roughly 21.5 million people. DeSantis made the announcement as he signed a bill that bans entities, including private businesses, from requiring so-called “vaccine passports” and that amends the state’s Emergency Management Act by placing limits on local emergency powers.
“What I’m going to do is sign the bill, it’s effective July 1,” DeSantis said at the bill signing Monday in St. Petersburg. “I will also sign an executive order pursuant to that bill invalidating all remaining local emergency COVID orders effective on July 1. But then to bridge the gap between then and now, I am going to suspend, under my executive power, the local emergency orders as it relates to COVID. I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do.”
DeSantis said his administration wants people to “enjoy themselves” and “live freely in the state of Florida.”
DeSantis had already unilaterally banned even private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination to enter. The law banning vaccine passports, effective July 1, entails a $5,000 fine any time a business or school requires proof of vaccination for entry.
DeSantis, a Republican and potential 2024 presidential contender, has been among the governors quickest to drop COVID-19 safety protocols.
But other, more liberal jurisdictions are making moves towards nixing COVID-19 restrictions, too. New York City expects to return to fully capacity by July 1. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has said she thinks July 1 is a reasonable target for essentially returning to normal, if vaccinations continue to increase at the rate they have been and if cases continue to drop at the same pace.
More than 100 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, the White House announced last week.
— Jack Renaud contributed reporting.