ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he has suspended all local government emergency orders related to COVID-19 effective immediately.
DeSantis made the announcement in St. Petersburg on Monday morning.
“We’re no longer in a state of emergency,” DeSantis said Monday, a week after he extended the state of emergency in Florida by 60 days.
He said he’s using his executive power to suspend all local government emergency orders until a bill goes into effect on July 1 invalidating all remaining local coronavirus emergency orders.
The bill signed by DeSantis that goes into effect July 1 says an emergency order issued by a city or county has to be “limited in duration, applicability, and scope in order to reduce any infringement on individual rights.”
The announcement has local officials scrambling to figure out what they can or can’t do about it, including in Orange County where leaders recently announced its three-phase plan to gradually phase out its mask mandate.
The announcement comes after DeSantis had been clear from the beginning of the pandemic that he wanted to give locals the control to do as they saw fit for their constituents when it came to COVID-19.
Under the executive order, businesses could still require masks and social distancing, which include local theme parks, but not local governments.
The law codifies much of the actions DeSantis had already taken, including pre-empting local governments from enforcing mask mandates, but it also would give the governor — DeSantis and those after him — broad authority during future public health crises to set aside local edicts that do not conform to those issued by the state.
Keeping such measures in place, DeSantis said during the news conference, undermines confidence in the coronavirus vaccines.
“Folks that are saying that they need to be policing people at this point,” DeSantis said, “are saying you don’t believe in the vaccines, you don’t believe in the data, you don’t believe in the science.”
You can read the executive order in full below:
Orange County officials said they are working to get more information regarding the change to determine how it will impact the county’s mask mandate. The county said its attorney is looking over the executive order as of Monday evening, and that Mayor Jerry Demings intends to respond to it in writing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.