OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Florida has been leading the way in the American comeback from the coronavirus pandemic because of its Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
And the governor has now taken another step in that direction on Monday when he announced the suspension of all local coronavirus related restrictions, Bay News 9 reported.
The announcement was made Monday morning while DeSantis was visiting St. Petersburg.
DeSantis said while COVID isn’t over, the need for emergency rules is.
The bill the governor signed Monday gives him the ability to override local emergency orders like the ones passed throughout Florida after the pandemic began.
It does not take effect until July 1, but DeSantis said his executive order suspends local ordinances immediately.
“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do. 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 vaccine, you don’t believe in the data, you don’t believe the science,” he said. “We’ve embraced the vaccine, we’ve embraced the science.”
“The bill ensures that neither the state or local governments can close businesses or keep kids out of in-personal instruction unless they satisfy a demanding and continuous justification,” the governor said.
But not everyone is thrilled with Gov. DeSantis’ decision. Among them St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman who, in a series of tweets, derided the decision by the governor.
“Today, in preempting both local governments AND businesses from keeping their establishments safe, Ron DeSantis decided he cares not about public health, but power,” he said.
“To be clear, cities like St. Pete, Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Miami Beach, saved Florida and the governor’s behind throughout this pandemic. Can you imagine if each city had been led by Ron DeSantis? How many lives would have been lost? What would our economy look like today?” he said.
But if what he is saying is true then why have states that have been locked down more than many others, like New York and Michigan, had such atrocious numbers?
“I’m a strong believer in home rule. We’re a melting pot here. Everybody is coming here to vacation and it’s our right to protect everybody,” Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth said. “People aren’t sent off in handcuffs. They’re handed a mask when we see them without one.”
“I’m hoping that businesses will still mandate on their own properties,” Mayor Titsworth said. “I hope people realize how serious this is. We’re still in the throes of COVID.”
And some believe he has the White House on his mind in signing the bill.
“I’m wondering if this is in part of a larger plan for a potential run at a larger office, which I think is in the offing here in the next couple of years,” House Democratic Co-Leader Evan Jenne said.
Bradenton Herald Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who serves as chairman of the Manatee Board of County Commissioners, agreed with the governor.
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“I think it’s fair to say that we don’t need to be in a state of emergency for COVID,” she said. “I think it is time to move forward. Let’s be honest. We all know we have to be smart what we do, particularly if we can’t socially distance.”Top of Form
“We’ve had a year of this pandemic, so we realize you’ve got to be smart in the grocery store or the drug store – wear a mask no problem,” she said. “That being said, if you’ve had both shots of the vaccine for more than two weeks, you can know you’re protected.”
The governor said that the restrictions in the bill are based in science and have future public health emergencies in mind.
“I think this creates a structure that’s going to be a little bit more respectful of people’s businesses, jobs, schools and personal freedoms,” he said.