Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took the remarkable twofold step Monday of both signing a bill that would end all COVID-related local restrictions effective July 1, then signing an executive order to make sure those provisions take effect not two months from now, but immediately.
"The fact is, we are no longer in a state of emergency," DeSantis said during a news conference. He acknowledged that Florida was still not done with its fight against the coronavirus but reiterated the nation’s decline in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
"I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do," DeSantis said, adding that asking vaccinated individuals to continue to wear masks would undermine confidence in the coronavirus vaccines.
Private businesses can still require masks and enforce social distancing and other protective measures.
DeSantis signed a bill Monday that codifies the executive order into law, effective July 1. The executive order, he said, was designed to "bridge the gap" until then. The measure, which effectively ends all local pandemic-related restrictions, also bans vaccine passports.
The Florida governor's presser also included a jab at Democratic Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other lockdown-loving Democrats drunk on their own power.
Ron DeSantis lifts local orders: "Given [vaccine, antibody] performance, if you need emergency powers under those circumstances, when are you gonna be able to move beyond it?"— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) May 3, 2021
Blue state/area measures (like DC) "so, so outside of what would be justifiable based on the evidence." pic.twitter.com/6TV0uzyRCW
"There is enough vaccine to go around," Desantis told reporters. "The vaccine data is fantastic, and you have to ask yourself, if given that type of performance of the vaccine, given how great the monoclonal antibodies have done - which nobody ever talks about, but those have done very well - given all that, if you still need emergency powers under those circumstances, then when are you gonna be able to move beyond it? And I think as we're seeing throughout the rest of the country, if cities are banning dancing at weddings or doing some of that stuff, that's just so, so outside of what would be justifiable based on the evidence."
After initially loosening Washington D.C. indoor masking requirements for the vaccinated on Friday, Bowser caved to pressure and backtracked less than 24 hours later. And while the D.C. mayor did relax restrictions on weddings somewhat, she also banned dancing and standing during receptions, because everyone knows your odds of catching COVID-19 increase exponentially when dancing and standing at weddings. Science!
At any rate, thank God for Ron DeSantis. That short clip displays exactly why he's the right person for the right job during the right time in history. Beyond the dish at Bowser, which was great, there is also the unassailable logic that if governments still need emergency powers with an effective vaccine available to every adult, when would they not need such powers?
Finally, in case you missed it, I'll leave you with a quote from my timely opinion column about why I believe DeSantis' 2018 victory over Andrew Gillum was the most important GOP victory this century.
If you think California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey lockdowns were bad, imagine a Florida under Gillum. Imagine a Florida with closed beaches, shuttered restaurants and businesses, and mandated masks outside ad infinitum, with cops enforcing it all with fines. Imagine Florida’s nursing homes being filled with COVID patients early on in the pandemic, causing thousands more elderly to die. Imagine theme parks that bring joy to millions every year closed indefinitely and on the verge of bankruptcy. Instead of contrasting an open Disney World with a closed California Disneyland, we’d probably be talking about an out-of-business Disney. Imagine residents fleeing the state in droves, if the higher taxes hadn’t already driven them out.
Finally, imagine if Team Reality didn’t have Florida to point to, a high-profile, densely populated state that proves that free people can and should be allowed to pursue their lives without the sky falling, that it IS possible to live with a now-endemic virus that will always pose some risk to humanity. Just because that risk will always exist, however, doesn’t mean that humans should stop embracing and doing the things that make life great. Florida under Ron DeSantis showed us that, in as big and bold a way as it possibly could have, and in doing so, the Sunshine State may very well have saved the country from endless years of COVID-tyranny.