Ron DeSantis Announces Granting Clemency To Gym Owners Punished For Violating Mask Mandate

Written by Carmine Sabia

OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion




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Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking another stand to help those who have been affected by the COVID-19 restrictions in his state.

On Wednesday the governor granted clemency to two Broward County gym owners who did not enforce the mask wearing mandate, NBC Miami reported.

“I was actually just recently briefed on this case and we looked at it and so I’m glad you have Mike and Jillian on, and I’m also glad to be on to be able to say that effective tomorrow morning, I’m going to sign a reprieve under my constitutional authority,” DeSantis said to Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who also had the gym owners on the show.

“So that will delay the case for 60 days against both of them, and then when our clemency board meets in the coming weeks, we’ll issue pardons, not only for Mike and Jillian, but for any Floridian that may have outstanding infractions for things like masks and social distancing,” he said.

“The fact is it’s not even right to be wearing masks when you’re exercising,” the governor said to Fox News. “It’s not healthy for people to be doing that in the first place, so it was a bad restriction, but these things with health should be advisory, they should not be punitive.”

“I think they’ve been treated poorly, and fortunately, they got a governor that cares,” he said.

“No fines, no penalties, we’ve got to move forward as a state. We are the oasis of freedom, that’s why Florida is doing well,” the governor said.

“So let’s build off that and let’s not go backwards on any of this stuff,” he said.

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The Governor added the state’s clemency board would issue pardons to all Floridians who received fines for masks and social distancing violations during the pandemic.

Carnevale, the owner of Fitness 1440 in Plantation, was arrested three times over the summer and appeared before a judge in March over several charges of failing to comply with an emergency order…

Carnevale was arrested in late August after setting up equipment in the parking lot of his gym and not asking members to wear masks.

“I believe I’m being targeted because I stood up to Broward County,” the gym owner said.

“They’re looking to put us in jail for this and we’re not backing down,” he said. “We have an attorney that’s going to fight all the way to the end, I’m going to fight all the way to the end.”

His attorney said that he would not accept a plea deal and was willing to serve time behind bars. He even filed a lawsuit against the county for the mandate.

DeSantis’ star has been on the rise in the Republican Party, and Donald Trump has even mentioned him as a possible vice president pick if he campaigns for the presidency in 2024.

And on Monday, DeSantis filed a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control in federal court that aims to hold the CDC accountable for inflicting economic damage to Florida businesses with draconian lockdown measures.

“But I can tell you this, our state was predicted to get hit worse on Covid economically than any other state because of our service economy and our tourism base,” DeSantis said.

“And what we were able to do by keeping Florida open, we saved hundreds of thousands of jobs in the restaurant, hotel, hospitality industry. We saved thousands of businesses,” he continued.

DeSantis declared: “You know how I know that? Because every time I go out, someone will come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for saving my job,’ or ‘Thank you for saving my business.’ So we’ve been able now with 4.7 percent unemployment, that’s significantly less than the national average of 6% and way less than lockdown states like New York and California have.”

“So we’re doing it right. We obviously want to make sure those folks are able to succeed in terms of getting the people they need, but just think of where we could be. I mean, this is a good problem to have compared to seeing people — in some parts of the country, these businesses are dead,” he continued.

“They’re never coming back. This is the heavy hand of the government crushing family businesses, ruining jobs, and destroying millions of people’s lives. We chose another path in Florida; it was the right path; it was the successful path, and yes, we want to make sure that these things are — there are actually restaurants that have to close one day a week because they don’t have enough folks,” he said.

“So that is fundamentally unfair,” he continued.

“It makes no sense and we are suing the CDC right now. We have a hearing coming up in federal court. But I can tell you, I want the cruises going. I want the cruise ships going; I think it’s vital for our economy. There are tens of thousands of folks that are impacted by this issue,” he declared.