DeSantis Win: Gainesville Rescinds City Vaccine Mandate

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a visit to DeFuniak Springs to announce $500,000 in grants for Walton County.
Michael Snyder, The Northwest Florida Daily News via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday announced a major victory for Gainesville city employees, as the city rescinded the city worker vaccine mandate after a judge granted a temporary injunction against it.

City commissioners initially voted for the mandate applying to all city employees 4-3 in August. The rule prompted a massive lawsuit on behalf of roughly 200 city employees. Weeks later, Gov. DeSantis announced that Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) filed an amicus brief with the court, supporting the city employees challenging the rule. And last week, the city employees scored a victory after Alachua Civil Circuit Judge Monica Brasington granted the injunction against the city’s vaccine mandate.

That same week, city commissioners voted to “reconsider” the city’s mandate. Then, on Friday, DeSantis announced that the Florida Department of Health “received a response” from the city “indicating the City of Gainesville rescinded its employee vaccine mandate.”

“This reversal also follows an Eighth Judicial Circuit Court temporary injunction preventing vaccine mandates for city employees,” his office said.

“In response to your inquiry, there are zero employees who are subject to a City COVID-19 employer vaccination requirement,” City Manager Lee Feldman wrote in response to the Florida Department of Health’s letter.

“Please be advised that o September 23, 2021, the City Commission of the City of Gainesville took action to remind their August 5th action related to COVID-19,” he continued.

“Based upon that rescission, the directives enumerated in my memoranda dated August 12, 2021 and updated August 14, 2021 have been voided, he added.

“In May, I signed SB 2006 to empower Floridians – not elected politicians – to take charge of their personal health decisions,” DeSantis said in a statement in response to the news.

“We are not going to allow our first responders and government employees, many of whom have been on the front lines for over a year and a half, to be cast aside by local politicians’ mandates. This reversal by the City of Gainesville is a victory for liberty,” he added.

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo also celebrated the decision.

“Floridians have the right to make their own decisions regarding the health of themselves and their families,” he said.

“As a new resident to Florida, I am glad to see that the City of Gainesville has changed course on employee vaccine mandates. Without COVID-19 mandates, the State of Florida has been highly successful in vaccinating over 70 percent of the population,” he added.

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.

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