Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and ultimately, Gainesville city employees, scored a victory this week after a judge granted a temporary injunction against the city’s vaccine mandate.
Until Wednesday, Gainseville city employees risked termination if they refused to get vaccinated for the Chinese coronavirus — a rule the city commissioners voted for in August 4-3.
“People who are going to hospitals, the vast vast majority of them haven’t been vaccinated,” commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos said at the time.
“I believe we move towards mandating vaccines for our employees so that we can ensure all of our people are healthy, they have a safe workplace, and also for the public,” the commissioner added.
A lawsuit, on behalf of roughly 200 city employees, was subsequently filed August 26. On September 13, during Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) Newberry press conference centered around the illegality of vaccine mandates, the governor revealed Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) filed an amicus brief with the court, supporting the city employees challenging the intrusive mandate.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Newberry, Florida, on September 13, 3021, and vows to fight against vaccine mandates threatening to cost people their jobs in Florida (Breitbart News/Hannah Bleau).
“Now you have city officials saying they are going to fire employees if they don’t take a vaccine. It is unlawful. It is directly contradicting Florida law,” she said, likely referencing Florida’s SB 2006, which effectively bans vaccine passports in the state.
During the press conference, DeSantis reminded challengers that the rule applies to government agencies as well.
“So if a government agency in the state of Florida forces a vaccine as a condition of employment, that violates the Florida law,” he said, triggering applause in the room.
Then, a week and a half later, Alachua Civil Circuit Judge Monica Brasington granted the injunction against the city’s vaccine mandate.
“The strongest argument we have is the Florida constitution’s strong right to privacy, which includes a right to complete bodily autonomy and a right to refuse unwanted medical procedures, so that the city of Gainesville cannot treat its employees’ bodies like property,” Jeff Childers, the lead attorney for the city’s employees, said, according to AUSF.
A section of the crowd assembled to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis speak in Newberry, Florida, on September 13, 2021. (Breitbart News/Hannah Bleau).
Austin Bush, one of dozens of plaintiffs in the lawsuit who serves as one of the city’s first responders, said “there is still work to be done, but we are taking the victory today and going to continue with our efforts against the mandate.”
Sgt. Tristan Grunder, president of the Gainesville Fraternal Order of Police president, said officers are “happy that this has been put on pause for the future,” explaining it “allows us to have more time, because I think one of the big issues that we’ve had all along is that this felt very rushed.”
“It felt like the decision was very emotional and maybe not super thought out by the commissioners,” he added.
A spokesperson for the city said the city will continue to push vaccinations through “education and incentives.”
“We recognize the reality of vaccine hesitancy and vaccine disinformation but agree with public health experts that vaccination is key in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” city spokesperson Rossana Passaniti said.
Several city employees subjected to vaccine mandates spoke out at DeSantis’s press conference, highlighting the issues with such intrusive requirements.
“If this mandate continues, not only will we lose our freedom of choice, but we will lose our jobs and our livelihood,” Orange County firefighter Maria Bernard said, asking why the freedom to choose what to do with one’s body is “no longer a human right.”
Governor Ron DeSantis / Facebook
The case is Friend v. The City of Gainesville, No. 01-2021-CA-2412 in the Circuit Court of the Eighth Judicial Circuit for Alachua County, Florida.