Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed an executive order on Wednesday, canceling coronavirus-related fines imposed by local governments in the Sunshine State throughout the pandemic.
DeSantis signed the order on Wednesday, citing the “unprecedented local government restrictions imposed on individuals and businesses over the course of the last year.”
“I hereby remit and fines imposed between March 1, 2020, and March 10, 2021 by any political subdivision of Florida related to local government COVID-19 restrictions,” the order states, extending to both businesses and individuals alike. The order does not extend, however, to actions taken by the state, nor does it erase fines imposed on nursing homes and assisted living facilities:
Speaking of the order, DeSantis described the fines as “out of control,” citing the need to “make sure that folks are protected.”
“Most of those restrictions have not been effective. That’s just the reality,” the governor said.
In September, DeSantis lifted key coronavirus restrictions across the Sunshine State and suspended fines lodged toward those who broke local mask mandates.
“Just as an act of executive grace, all outstanding fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals are suspended,” DeSantis announced at the time, emphasizing the need to “get away from trying to penalize people for not social distancing and work with people constructively.”
“We’re also saying everybody has an opportunity and a right to work. Every business has the right to operate. Some of the locals may be able to — they can do reasonable regulations, but they can’t just say no. You can’t say no after six months and just have people twisting in the wind,” DeSantis added.
Florida has since served as a model for other states in their respective reopening processes, as DeSantis has refused to back down to pressure, vowing to “never do any of these lockdowns again.”
“There are not a whole lot of Floridians who are itching to move from Florida to lockdown states, but there are thousands and thousands of people who are seeking to leave the lockdowns behind for the greener pastures in Florida,” he said during his March State of the State address.
“We have long been known as the Sunshine State – but, given the unprecedented lockdowns we have witnessed in other states, I think the Florida sun now serves as a beacon of light to those who yearn for freedom,” he added.