Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has pushed through a measure banning local cities from enforcing mask mandates amid sky-high statewide coronavirus infection rates, according to a report Wednesday.
The measure, which extends an executive order DeSantis signed in September, prevents local governments from fining folks who fail to mask up — and from ordering restaurants to close without public health or economic data to justify the move, according to clickorlando.com.
The order signals the Sunshine State’s move into “phase 3” of the pandemic — meaning restaurants, bars and salons will be allowed to reopen at full capacity, the outlet reported.
Florida’s relaxed enforcement plan comes as a second wave of COVID-19 slams the US, bringing the total number of deaths to more than 260,000 nationally — and prompting other states to add stricter safety regulations.
It also comes after a Florida mayor shut down a bar in his county over the weekend after it was flooded by swarms of maskless partygoers upon reopening for the first time since the pandemic began. Photos show unprotected patrons packed shoulder-to-shoulder inside The Wharf Fort Lauderdale.
On Wednesday, DeSantis released a video announcing vaccine breakthroughs — but didn’t comment on why he had extended the mask enforcement ban.
“In recent days we’ve seen more breakthroughs in the fight of COVID-19,” he said in a video. “If we can redouble our efforts until the vaccine is deployed we’ll help safeguard the lives of thousands of Floridians.”
On Tuesday, Florida health officials reported 8,555 new COVID-19 cases and 72 deaths due to the illness.
More than 953,300 infections have been reported in the state in total and at least 18,157 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data Wednesday afternoon.
Source: NY Post
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