DeSantis drops all COVID restrictions in Florida, promises no more closures
Cases in the state peaked in July and have been steadily declining ever since.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week formally lifted all statewide COVID-19 restrictions in the Sunshine State, promising residents that his office would pursue no lockdowns as it moves forward in managing the coronavirus pandemic there.
DeSantis's announcement ended all restrictions on restaurants and bars; it also forbids local governments from closing businesses. Local authorities are further forbidden from imposing restaurant capacity limits below 50%.
"We’re ... saying in the state of Florida everybody has a right to work," DeSantis said at a Friday press conference. Local authorities, he said, "can do reasonable regulations, but they can’t just say no."
Additionally, local governments may not collect fines on pandemic-related regulations such as mask mandates.
Private businesses will still be permitted to set their own capacity limits and mask rules under the state's reopening.
Democratic state Senator Linda Stewart criticized the move on Friday, saying she was "not terribly convinced that we’re ready for this right now" and claiming that the state "will find out in three weeks if we’re ready.”
Coronavirus cases in Florida peaked in mid-July and have been declining ever since; daily deaths, meanwhile, have declined more slowly, though they appear to have peaked in early August.