(CW44 News at 10) – Governor Ron DeSantis has signed an emergency order that will remove all local COVID-19 emergency orders statewide.
He says telling people they must follow COVID-19 restrictions undermines public confidence in vaccines.
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Local businesses are one of the groups most affected by this change.
At LaLa’s Sangria Bar in Tampa’s Channelside neighborhood, owner John English says he’s delighted to finally regain a sense of normalcy, adding, “We were actually excited about this. But he’s also going to keep some COVID-19 precautions in place, like keeping hand sanitizer readily available to all customers who need it.
Pete Boland, manager of Mary Margaret’s Old Irish Tavern, says: “It’s about time. I think the tone and feel here in downtown St. Pete and where I’ve traveled around the rest of Florida quite a bit in recent weeks, it certainly doesn’t feel like an emergency anymore.
Local bar owners say this has been a tough year for the industry, especially when it comes to wearing masks. “It’s been very difficult to apply from the very beginning,” Boland said.
After Governor DeSantis signed an executive order on Monday removing all local COVID-19 restrictions statewide, bar owners say they are relieved.
“It’s hard to go to a restaurant or bar and eat or drink with a mask,” Boland said.
Governor DeSantis’ new decree allows private companies to decide which COVID-19 precautions they wish to continue to apply, if any, but local governments cannot demand restrictions.
“If there weren’t that many vaccines available now, and there was a shortage of vaccines, then I get it all, you want to make sure everyone is protected. But at this point it’s so readily available that if someone doesn’t get the vaccine, it’s their choice, ”English said.
“It’s an anti-scientific posture to enforce all of these restrictions even with a mass vaccination,” DeSantis said. He also signed a bill on Monday that would prevent local governments from closing businesses and schools despite previous COVID-19 policies.
The English say this is a step in the right direction. “In the hospitality industry, people need to see your facial expressions in order to feel a certain way.”
Boland says he’s updated his restaurant’s air filtration system but won’t need masks anymore. “Put aside some of our partisan politics and start letting people know that there is nothing wrong with living your life and getting back to normal.”
The bill signed Monday morning by Governor DeSantis will take effect on July 1, 2021. It also strengthens an emergency ordinance banning vaccine passports, which prevents businesses, schools and other organizations across the state from ” require people to provide proof that they have been vaccinated.
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Please note that schools and institutions can still impose warrants, such as Hillsborough County Public Schools which sent an email Tuesday morning that reads:
With less than four weeks in the 2020-2021 school year, Hillsborough County Public Schools remain committed to closing this year with the health of our students and staff at the forefront.
All HCPS health and safety protocols will remain in effect until the end of this school year, including the requirement to cover their faces for all students and staff on campus.
Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed two Orders in Council EO-21-101 and EO-21-102 regarding local COVID-19 policies. These emergency orders do NOT affect school districts or individual schools.
The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) sent out advice late yesterday to confirm that the governor’s orders DO NOT apply to school districts instead, they ONLY affect city and county government entities. The FLDOE specifically declares or EO-21-101 or EO-21-102 impact the policies of any school district for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
We thank our students and staff for their resilience this year and for following all protocols.
Please see advice from the Florida Department of Education below.
Florida State Orders in Council 21-101 and 21-102:
Questions have been raised regarding the effects of Orders in Council EO-21-101, which are not effective until July 1, 2021, and EO-21-102, which is effective immediately.
To clarify, EO-21-102 only affects city and county governments, and does NOT affect school districts and individual schools.
Additionally, EO-21-101 and EO-21-102 only affect COVID-19 restraining orders / orders that are adopted by emergency promulgation.
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Or EO-21-101 or EO-21-102 impact the policies of any school district for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.