“We are no longer in a state of emergency,” declared Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
On Monday, DeSantis signed an executive order banning vaccine passports and ending social distancing and masking restrictions put in place in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of the restrictions were already repealed in recent weeks.
The measure to ban the implementation of vaccine passports makes Florida the first state in the union to take proactive action against a proposal some conservative commentators have dubbed “tyrannical.”
“The fact is, we’re no longer in a state of emergency,” said DeSantis at a news conference. “I think it’s the evidence-based thing to do.”
The governor noted that while he is repealing the state’s restrictions, he acknowledged that Florida is not yet done with its fight against the virus and urged residents to continue getting vaccinated. He stated that mandating the use of masks following widespread vaccination would undermine the public’s confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccines.
DeSantis noted that although states and cities will no longer have public health restrictions, private businesses are still free to require the use of masks, social distancing, and other protective measures — as is their right.
The executive order will be codified into law effective July 1, through a bill DeSantis signed on the same day. DeSantis said the executive order is designed to “bridge the gap” until the plaw takes effect.
The bill also “ensures that neither the state nor local governments can close business or keep kids out of in-person instruction, unless they satisfy demanding and continuous justifications,” in addition to limiting the power local authorities have to enforce local emergency orders. It also provides the governor the power to repeal and local emergency orders in the state.
DeSantis’ order comes as the average in new cases in Florida continues to decline, having fallen by more than 13 per cent over the last week, according to CNBC.