ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WWSB) - Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order on Monday invalidating local COVID-19 ordinances beginning July 1.
In the meantime, DeSantis announced at a news conference that he is also suspending, under executive power, any local emergency orders relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Touting Florida’s vaccination efforts and reluctance to impose strict measures such as lockdowns as some other states have done in the past year, he said any additional restrictions are not justifiable.
“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do,” DeSantis said, speaking at a waterfront restaurant in St. Petersburg. “I think folks that are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, then you’re really saying you don’t believe in the vaccines, you don’t believe in the data, you don’t believe in the science.”
DeSantis also signed Senate Bill 2006 into law, which would ban vaccination passports, and give the governor power to override local orders during health crises, and directing state agencies to plan for future pandemics.
In addition to barring COVID-19 passports, the measure would 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.
The bill would give the governor power to override local orders if they are determined to “unnecessarily restrict individual rights or liberties.”
Among other aspects of the bill, state agencies would be required to develop by the end of 2022 public health emergency plans, and the Division of Emergency Management would have to stockpile personal protective equipment.
The City of Sarasota recently extended its declaration of a local citywide public health emergency through May 7 following a weekly review, as required by the City Charter.
The order extended the City’s temporary street closure program through May 31 to allow additional space for outdoor dining and help restaurants and retailers severely impacted by the pandemic.
DeSantis said citizens have been chaffing with having to live under unnecessary restrictions. He encouraged people to get vaccinated. “We want to have people enjoy themselves and live freely in the State of Florida.”