Florida Gov. DeSantis issues order to stop municipalities from collecting most COVID fines

Fines as far back as March 2020 related to virus restrictions are canceled with the governor's new order.

Updated: March 12, 2021 - 2:58pm

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Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed an executive order that prevents local governments from issuing fines to residents and essentially all businesses for not following COVID health-safety mandates.

The only exceptions to the order are assisted living facilities, hospitals and healthcare providers. 

The order specifically states fines imposed by any Florida subdivision from March 1, 2020, to March 10, 2021, related to local pandemic restrictions be canceled.

DeSantis in signing the order Thursday called the issuing of the fines "out of control" and said he wants to protect residents from such extreme measures. 

"Most of those restrictions have not been effective," he also said. "That’s just the reality. The evidence is in on that, and so we wanna really go forth fresh, and we want people to make decisions, but we don’t want it under the heavy hand of government."

However, officials in some South Florida cities aren't pleased with the order, especially as spring break travelers begin to flood the area.

"As far as fining businesses going forward ... we have the county attorney’s office reviewing our options," Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said.

Officials in the city of Fort Lauderdale, in Broward County, have stated that they will continue to enforce virus-related rules and penalties, attempting to disregard DeSantis.

Mayor Steven Geller said he doesn't believe any South Florida governments are "happy" about the order.

Without as much control on controlling restrictions placed on businesses and individuals, Geller explained that the only other option after giving warnings is to force businesses to close their doors.