ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued executive orders Monday that suspended all local coronavirus emergency orders, and some Central Florida leaders are considering their next move.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings told Channel 9 on Tuesday that he will speak with other county leaders about options moving forward.
County officials were planning to gradually roll back measures like social distancing and face mask covering requirements, but DeSantis’ new executive orders preempted their plan.
Demings called the governor’s move “political” and told Channel 9 that county attorneys are exploring legal options for now.
“I live in this community,” he said. “This is where I was born and raised. I know ... what is best for this community -- better than, perhaps, those who may live and work in Tallahassee.”
Demings and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer both said they are very disappointed in the governor’s move and hope people will continue to wear masks even without a mandate.
“300 to 400 every day still testing positive, and we have several each week that continue to die,” Demings said. “So we have to remain focused on protecting the lives of the people here within our community.”
Dyer said it’s now residents responsibility to continue to wear their masks and get vaccinated to help protect the community.
“It’s incumbent upon everybody here in Central Florida if we really want to get back to normal and bring tourists back, we have to do the things that keep our community safe,” Dyer said.
The mayors say without the steps local governments have taken to protect the public, many more people would’ve died.
While the state’s executive orders stop local governments from implementing COVID-19 precautions, they do not apply to businesses.
Hotels, theme parks and restaurants can still require visitors to wear a face covering or remain socially distanced.