Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is ordering travelers flocking to the Sunshine State from coronavirus hotspots — particularly the New York Tri-State Area — to self-quarantine, he announced on Monday.
DeSantis, who is facing mounting pressure to “shut down” Florida and issue a statewide stay-at-home order, announced on Monday that he is cracking down on travelers who are fleeing from the pandemic, particularly from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
“There’s over 190 direct flights from the New York City area to the state of Florida, and I would reckon given the outbreak there, that every single flight has somebody on it who is positive for COVID-19,” DeSantis said on Monday.
“And so as we are working to stop it in the state of Florida, you’re consistently having people come in from one of the top hot spots in the entire world,” he continued.
“We don’t have people coming from Wuhan, we don’t have people coming from Milan, yet you have a flood of people still coming from New York City,” he explained.
The order states:
I hereby direct all persons whose point of departure originates from outside the State of Florida in an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), and entering the State of Florida through airports to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter. This Order shall not apply to persons employed by the airlines and those performing military, emergency or health response. This Order shall take effect on March 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. All persons isolating or quarantining under this Section, shall be responsible for all costs associated with that person’s isolation or quarantine, including transportation, lodging, food, medical care and any other expenses to sustain the person during the period of isolation or quarantine.
Notably, DeSantis stressed that it is “actually a criminal offense if you violate the quarantine order.”
Per the order:
Any person who violates any isolation or quarantine directed by the Department of Health commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, which is punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 60 days, a fine not to exceed $500, or both. See § 381.00315(6), Fla. Stat.
The order comes as DeSantis faces increased pressure to issue a stay-at-home order for the state of Florida.
“It’s not clear to me that doing a massive shut down of an entire state would even work,” DeSantis said. “In New York City, it’s like the party never ended. You got people congregating all over the place.”
“You see images from California in Orange County … the beaches may have never been so crowded. These are people who have been ordered to shelter in place and they are not complying with those orders,” he added.
DeSantis said that localities may implement more aggressive measures as he has laid the groundwork for the state’s response in accordance with the CDC. However, taking statewide action on travelers from New York, particularly — a virus hotspot — is one way DeSantis believes Florida can stop the spread.
“That’s the only way that we can be sure that that virus is not going to be reintroduced to the state of Florida and then spread,” DeSantis said.
“You have so many people working so hard. Many people have sacrificed to try to protect our friends and neighbors … it would be unacceptable to continue to allow it just simply coming in from people who are fleeing a shelter in place order in those states,” he added.