Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) extended his order blocking local governments from enforcing mask mandates across the Sunshine State.
DeSantis, who said that Florida will “never do any of these lockdowns again, extended the order he issued in September, which lifted key restrictions in the state and suspended fines for breaking local protocols in relation to mask-wearing.
“Just as an act of executive grace, all outstanding fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals are suspended,” DeSantis announced at the time of the initial order.
“I think we need to get away from trying to penalize people for not social distancing and work with people constructively,” he added.
His decision to extend his order follows pressure from several Florida mayors, who are calling for a statewide mask mandate.
“Having a mandatory mask mandate throughout the state so there’s consistency, allowing us as individual counties and cities to determine what other restrictions make sense,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman (D) said during a Zoom call last week.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber (D) attributed an “enormous surge” in coronavirus cases to the governor opening the economy and preventing local governments from enforcing individual mask mandates.
According to WSVN, the City of Miami Beach plans to “issue citations to people who refuse to wear facial coverings,” although officials will not be able to immediately penalize violators with a $50 fine due to the extension of DeSantis’s order.
DeSantis’s office reiterated last week that the governor will not lock down the state of Florida, even as fellow governors retighten restrictions in their respective states.
“The Governor will not lock down and hurt families who can’t afford to shelter in place for 6 weeks. Especially not for a virus that has a 99.8 percent survival rate,” his office stated.
The primary focus of concern, his office added, remains on Assisted Living Facilities.