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Gov. DeSantis Suspends All Local COVID-19 Emergency Orders

ST. PETERSBURG (CBSMiami) - Citing the wide availability of vaccines in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis has invalidated all local emergency orders related to COVID-19.

At a bill signing in St. Petersburg, the governor made it official.

"What I'm going to do is sign the bill, it's effective July 1st, and I will also sign an executive order pursuant to that bill, invalidating all remaining local emergency COVID orders effective on July 1st. To bridge the gap between then and now, I am going to suspend, under my executive power, the local emergency orders as it relates to COVID," said DeSantis.

The governor said he thinks that's the evidence-based thing to do.

"I think folks that are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you are saying that you are really saying that you don't believe in the vaccine, you don't believe in the data, you don't believe in the science. We've embraced the vaccines, we've embraced the science on it, the data, I've said, has been good from the beginning of the clinical trials and it's even better in real life. It's available, we want everyone to get it and if you get it, just know that the reason you get it is because we want to be able to have people enjoy themselves and live freely in Florida " he said.

WATCH: Gov. DeSantis Suspends All Local COVID-Related Emergency Orders


Local leaders said they think the governor is jumping the gun.

"I'm very concerned because we still are in an emergency. We have fewer than half our people vaccinated. We have new strains threatening us and we have an economy that is still struggling," said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

In Miami-Dade, restrictions have been easing as well, but not eliminated. Levine Cava is cautioning people to remain vigilant.

"The pandemic has not gone away. I urge everyone to use common sense and, for God's sake, get that vaccine. We have lots of vaccine, we fought for that vaccine, we must leave no arm behind," she said.

And on Miami Beach, where it was chaos for weeks during spring break, Mayor Dan Gelber struggles to explain how the changes the city made to quell the chaos can continue.

"Really, we're at a loss. The governor is using his very formidable power to make this more perilous and dangerous," he said.

"I believe the governor cares more about politics than he does about public health. But he is the governor, we will follow his orders," said Broward Mayor Steve Geller.

Geller said the county has been easing restrictions recently based on science. He's worried that with current infection rates and fewer people getting vaccinated, the governor is making a big mistake.

"The COVID crisis is not yet over. We're close. Just look what's happening in India where they said the COVID crisis was over, it wasn't," he said.

But on Las Olas Monday night, the foot traffic was heavy.

Most chose to drop their masks, with several restaurants pivoting back to normalcy.

"Stop requiring guests to wear masks, because we don't want to have these hard conversations at the door now that there's no mask mandate for the state. Then people might feel empowered to walk in without it. We'd have to stop them, we'd have to confront them, we're not looking to do that," said Barry Gutin, owner of Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar.

However, for safety sake, employees remain under strict protocol.

"They're continuing to wear masks, temperature checks upon arrival. They have to fill out a health questionnaire prior to each shift," Gutin said.

In the Keys, Monroe County officials said businesses can still require mask usage if they prefer to do that.

"Monroe County will not be enforcing the county facial covering ordinance enacted to protect citizens from COVID-19. While Monroe County Code Compliance will no longer respond to COVID-19 facial covering-related complaints, individual businesses may still have facial covering requirements in place if they choose. Nothing in the Governor's Order prevents a restaurant or other business from requiring employees and patrons to wear masks while on the premises. Please remember to continue to wash your hands."

DeSantis said other states are also doing away with their local emergency orders as vaccines become readily available.

"The evidence tells us we are over a year into this, people can act with normal order but emergency orders, these extraordinary measures at this point are not justifiable," said DeSantis.

DeSantis said the state now has a surplus of vaccines and demand has not kept pace with supply.

"Now we're at the point where we've done about nine million folks, that's a majority of the adult population in the state. Most of the people who haven't gotten it are in the younger age groups, we obviously advocate that they do it, but it's really about making sure folks get it," he said.

DeSantis pointed out that the bill only applies to government actions and not to private businesses.

"In terms of what like a supermarket chooses to do, the Disney theme parks choose to do, this does not deal with that one way or the other. It's simply emergency orders and emergency penalties on individual businesses," he said.

According to Miami-Dade and Broward Public Schools, the governor's order doesn't impact district policies.

The statement from MDCPS read:

"Late Monday afternoon, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued two Executive Orders suspending COVID-19 local restrictions. After receiving the Executive Order, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) consulted with the Florida Department of Education, which has confirmed that neither order "impacts any school district's policies for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year". As such, all health protocols currently in place at M-DCPS will remain in effect for the remainder of this school year."

BCPS released the following statement:

"The Governor's Executive Order is not intended to apply to a School Board's policy. The policy remains in effect, and we continue to work closely with local and federal health experts on our current and future school safety protocols."

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