Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill suspending local COVID-19 emergency orders in Florida as well as prohibiting the use of “vaccine passports.”
“I’m going to sign the bill. It’s effective July 1. I’ll also sign an executive order pursuant to that bill invalidating all remaining local emergency COVID orders effective on July 1,” DeSantis said at a press conference in St. Petersburg on Monday. “But then, to bridge the gap between then and now, I’m 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,” he added. “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. We’ve embraced the vaccines. We’ve embraced the science on it.”
He added that the suspension will only affect government-mandated orders, not how businesses enforce coronavirus restrictions.
“In terms of what a supermarket or some of them choose to do, a Disney theme park, this does not deal with that one way or another,” he said. “It’s simply emergency orders and emergency penalties on individual businesses.”
The bill also bans vaccine passports, which the Republican governor had previously vowed to ban.
“You have a right to participate in society, go to a restaurant, movie, a ballgame, all these things without having to divulge this type of information,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has been hit with criticisms from Democrats and the media for reopening his state and vowing never to lock it down again. But a Stanford medical professor, Jayanta Bhattacharya, recently lauded the governor for his knowledge of the coronavirus.
“I mean, most epidemiologists don’t know the literature as well as he does. I mean, I don’t have the words. … I’m still stunned by it. I didn’t know anything about him, actually, before September, really. I’ve just been very impressed.”
Bhattacharya said he spoke with the Republican governor in September and called him “extraordinary” and unlike any other politician because of how well versed he was with data on the coronavirus.
“He had read all the papers I had referenced, and not just my articles — lots and lots of other papers. He knew all of the details; it was a remarkable conversation. And then, we had this, like, roundtable on Sept. 25, with Martin and Mike Leavitt, and with DeSantis leading it, and the next day, he lifted most of the restrictions all across Florida.”