Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order that will eliminate all fines issued by local government officials over the past year to people and businesses in the state who violated restrictions related to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“I hereby remit any fines imposed between March 1, 2020, and March 10, 2021, by any political subdivision of Florida related to local government COVID-19 restrictions,” DeSantis confirmed in the order, referring to the disease caused by the virus.
Fines excluded are those related to hospitals, assisted living facilities, and other health care providers. The order also does not apply to any CCP virus-related orders or enforcement taken by the state.
The governor mentioned during a press briefing on Thursday he thinks the fines issued are “out of control,” adding that he wants to make sure citizens are “protected.”
“Most of those restrictions have not been effective,” DeSantis told reporters at the briefing, WPTV reported.
“The evidence is in on that, so we just want to really go forward fresh,” he stated. “We want people to make decisions, but we don’t want it under the heavy-handed government.”
In September, the Republican governor announced in a similar executive order (pdf) suspending the collection of fines and penalties related to COVID-19 restrictions by local governments.
DeSantis, like the overwhelming majority of governors in the country, forced many businesses to close down in March 2020 and enacted restrictions on individuals. But he was among the first governors to ease rules, as state officials chose to focus on protecting the elderly and others with serious underlying illnesses while keeping statewide restrictions light for the less vulnerable population.
“Every Floridian has a right to earn a living and all businesses have a right to operate,” the governor told a crowd at CPAC. “Florida got it right and the lockdown states got it wrong.”
According to federal data, Florida has had 144 deaths involving COVID-19 per 100,000 residents since the beginning of the pandemic. That compares favorably with large states that enacted stricter measures. New York, for instance, has had 245 deaths per 100,000 residents.