Ron DeSantis: Forcing Employees to Mask for ‘Appearance’ of Safety ‘Not a Sufficient Justification’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Miami.
Marta Lavandier/AP

Employers forcing employees to wear masks for the mere “appearance” of safety is “not a sufficient justification,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) emphasized on Sunday.

“Force-masking employees for the appearance of safety is not a sufficient justification. COVID theater has no place in Florida,” he said, posting a video alongside Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo where he reemphasized that point:

The clip stems from a video released last week featuring both DeSantis and Ladapo announcing major changes to Florida’s COVID-19 guidance. 

“People want to live freely in Florida, without corporate masking creating a two-tier society and without overbearing isolation for children,” DeSantis said. “We are empowering health care practitioners to follow science, not Fauci’s status quo.”

The new guidance, dubbed “Buck the CDC,” overtly “advises against wearing face coverings in a community setting” and explicitly states that Floridians “should not be forced to wear a mask at work.”

It also states that practitioners “have the flexibility to treat patients with off-label prescriptions if they determine it could help the patient and it is something the patient would like to try.” Additionally, it reduces isolation to five days for schoolchildren and others across the state. 

Perhaps most significantly, the new guidance places a heavy emphasis on employers unnecessarily masking employees. 

“Unlike CDC guidance, this guidance does not rely on wearing facial coverings in a community setting,” the guidance states, adding that there is “not strong evidence that facial coverings reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses.”

An information sign is displayed at a department store in Rosemont, Ill., Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois announced on Thursday a new, stricter set of coronavirus restrictions, ordering a statewide indoor mask mandate and requiring that all educators be vaccinated or face regular testing. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

An information sign is displayed at a department store in Rosemont, Ill., Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

“Businesses are advised to no longer require facial coverings for employees, as there is no proven significant clinical benefit for facial coverings among the general population,” it adds.

Earlier this month, DeSantis floated the possibility of a “Workers’ Bill of Rights” to combat forced masking by employers in the Sunshine State. 

“But in many cases they’re [employees] being forced to do it by the properties. And so I’d hate to say — maybe we need like a Workers’ Bill of Rights on some of this stuff just to let people breathe freely when they’re working,” DeSantis said. 

“I don’t think it’s really serving a purpose. Not when you have 500 other people … and you’re going to impose this on 12 people who are working hard to serve? So I really hope we can just get beyond that,” he continued, urging companies to “Liberate your employees from forced masking requirements.”


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