Questions Raised About Governor’s Legal Authority. DeSantis Has No Authority Over Airports, Air Travel Where Federal Enforcement Continues Through September.
Schools: Mask Mandate Continues.
BY: STAFF REPORT | BocaNewsNow.com
UPDATE at 4:54 pm: Complete order follows article.
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2021 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis earlier today suspended all COVID rules and regulations imposed by local governments across the state. That presumably includes mask mandates.
The Palm Beach County mask mandate, at least on paper, continues until May 18th. Area school districts say their mask mandates continue despite the Governor’s “order.”
Whether DeSantis has the legal authority to overrule local municipalities battling COVID-19 may be the subject of litigation. It’s unclear just what DeSantis’ order suspending COVID emergency rules and regulations actually means. In practicality, law enforcement never enforced mask orders across much of the state, leaving stores, businesses and citizens to ask others to comply.
It is unclear whether major businesses — like Publix, Target, WalMart, hotels and restaurants — will be permitted to require mask use. There are legal issues raised by a Governor telling businesses what they can not do when it comes to health and safety.
One area where DeSantis has no authority: airports. Anyone traveling in or out of a Florida airport is required to wear masks that cover both the nose and mouth. Federal officials — including TSA agents — are patrolling and reminding travelers that masks are a federal requirement. Airlines are also enforcing mask use — ejecting passengers (on the ground) who refuse to comply.
The TSA mask mandate was just extended through September.
We will publish the full text of the order once it is made available by the Governor’s office.
WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-52, subsequently extended, declaring a state of emergency for the entire State of Florida as a result of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, the State of Florida led the national effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to seniors first and has now provided vaccines to nearly 9 million people; and
WHEREAS, every Floridian who desired a vaccine is eligible to obtain one, and Florida now maintains a sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccines for every eligible Floridian who desires a vaccine to be vaccinated; and
WHEREAS, scientific studies show that vaccines protect individuals from COVID-19 and reduce hospitalizations and deaths caused by COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, on April 29, 2021, Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees issued a Public Health Advisory (1) stating that continuing COVID-19 restrictions on individuals, including long-term use of face coverings and withdrawal from social and recreational gatherings, pose a risk of adverse and unintended consequences, (2) further expanding vaccine eligibility, and (3) advising government offices to resume in-person operations and services; and
WHEREAS, due to the tremendous steps the State has taken to protect Florida’s most vulnerable populations and rapidly offer vaccines to every eligible Floridian who desires one, local communities lack justification in continuing to impose COVID-related emergency orders restricting the rights and liberties of their citizens; and
WHEREAS, on May 3, 2021, I signed into law SB 2006 – Emergency Management – which provides, effective July 1, 2021, that any emergency order issued by a political subdivision must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling public health or safety purpose, must be limited in duration, applicability, and scope in order to reduce any infringement on individual rights or liberties to the greatest extent possible, and may be invalidated by the Governor, at any time, if the Governor determines that such order unnecessarily restricts individual rights or liberties; and
WHEREAS, it is my determination that the remaining emergency orders issued by the political subdivisions of this State due to the COVID-19 emergency are not narrowly tailored to serve a public health or safety purpose and unnecessarily restrict individual rights and liberties, including the economic and commercial rights and liberties of business owners in this State; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ron DeSantis, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution and by the Florida Emergency Management Act, as amended, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order:
Section 1. In order to protect the rights and liberties of individuals in this State and to accelerate the State’s recovery from the COVID-19 emergency, any emergency order issued by a political subdivision due to the COVID-19 emergency which restricts the rights or liberties of individuals or their businesses is invalidated.
Section 2. Nothing herein prohibits a political subdivision of the State from enacting ordinances pursuant to regular enactment procedures to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its local population. Only the COVID-19 emergency orders, as defined in SB 2006, enacted prior to July 1, 2021, are hereby invalidated.
Section 3. This order is effective beginning on July 1, 2021 and shall be immediately filed with the Division of Administrative Hearings.
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