Governor Ron DeSantis suspends COVID-19 restrictions and signs legislation to ban vaccine passports all within 24 hours of announcing executive order 21-101

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Landmark Legislation to Ban Vaccine Passports and Stem Government Overreach 

St. Petersburg, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by local legislators and small business owners in St. Petersburg where he signed Senate Bill (SB) 2006, landmark legislation aimed at stemming the tide of local and state government overreach.

The bill takes aim at arbitrary lockdowns, vaccine passports and enhances emergency preparedness for future emergencies. Governor DeSantis also signed Executive Orders 21-101 and 21-102 suspending all local emergency orders until July 1, 2021, at which point local orders will be permanently invalidated pursuant to SB 2006.

“Over the last year we’ve avoided protracted lockdowns and school closures in Florida because I have refused to take the same approach as other lockdown Governors. This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision. I’d like to thank President Simpson, Speaker Sprowls and the Florida Legislature for getting this legislation got across the finish line.”

“While many states around the country are just now beginning to re-open, under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida has been responsibly opening back up over the last year. Our economy is bouncing back stronger than anyone could have imagined as more and more people flee high tax, high regulation states and chose the freedom we have here in Florida,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson. “This legislation codifies the actions our Governor took to over the last year to respond to the pandemic, from our state stockpile to a dedicated emergency fund. It also protects us from the government overreach we have seen in other states.”

“We have made it a mission in Florida to be ready for whatever disaster comes our way. Nobody could have predicted we would face a global pandemic such as this, but this session we looked at every aspect of the pandemic to determine how we can best be prepared for the threat of tomorrow. This bill balances protecting public health and guarding our economy from government overreach,” said Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls. “I applaud Governor DeSantis for doing what was necessary, despite the cries of critics and naysayers, to ensure Florida remained healthy and strong.”

“If there is one thing that this pandemic has taught us, it is that Florida continues to be the example of how to govern during these unprecedented times. Leaders like Governor Ron DeSantis, President Wilton Simpson, and Speaker Chris Sprowls are the reason that vaccines are widely available, our business are back open, and we continue to head down the path of normalcy again. The passing and signing of SB 2006 codifies many of the lessons learned from the ongoing pandemic. I couldn’t have gotten this bill across the finish line without my colleague Rep. Tom Leek in the House. There is still work that needs to be done and I look forward to marching towards a better, safer future," said Senator Danny Burgess.

"This legislation strikes the appropriate balance between protecting one’s safety and one’s personal liberty," said Representative Tom Leek.

SB 2006 will ensure that neither the state nor local governments can close businesses or keep students out of in-person instruction at Florida schools, except for hurricane emergencies, and caps all local emergency at seven-day increments.

The legislation also allows the Governor of Florida to invalidate a local emergency order if it unnecessarily restricts individual rights or liberties. The bill also improves Florida’s emergency planning for future public health emergencies, by adding personal protective equipment and other public health supplies to the inventory of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Additionally, the legislation codifies the prohibition of COVID-19 vaccine passports. Governor DeSantis enacted this prohibition through an executive order last month, blocking any business or government entity from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 21-102
(Suspending All Remaining Local Government Mandates and Restrictions Based on the COVID‑19 State of Emergency)
 
WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-52, declaring a state of emergency for the entire State of Florida as a result of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, on September 25, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-244, suspending the collection of local fines and penalties associated with COVID-19 regulations upon individuals, and on March 10, 2021, I issued Executive Order 21-65, categorically remitting all fines upon individuals and businesses alike related to local government COVID-19 restrictions; and
WHEREAS, on March 29, 2021, the Legislature presented, and I signed into law, SB 72 – Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19, enacted as Chapter 2021-1, Laws of Florida, which provides crucial liability protection to individuals, businesses, educational institutions, religious organizations, and health care providers for liability claims related to COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, on April 27, 2021, I extended the state of emergency initiated by Executive Order 20-52 as necessary to ensure Florida schools remain open for the remainder of the school year, to protect Floridians from being required to produce a so-called vaccine passport as a condition of participating in everyday life, and to implement budgetary response efforts to help Floridians to the greatest extent possible; 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, the State of Florida led the national effort to distribute the vaccine to elderly and vulnerable populations and has provided vaccines to nearly 9 million people; and
 
WHEREAS, every eligible Floridian is now legally permitted to obtain a vaccine, and Florida maintains a sufficient supply 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, the State and the majority of local governments have declined to issue mask mandates; and 
 
WHEREAS, a select number of local governments continue to impose mandates and business restrictions, without proper consideration of improving conditions and with no end in sight; 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-19 mandates or restrictions upon their citizens; and
 
WHEREAS, with my encouragement, the Florida Legislature passed and I signed SB 2006, a measure designed to curb restrictions and closures of businesses during an extended emergency, to add significant accountability and difficulty for the continuation of any local limitation on the rights or liberties of individuals or businesses, and to declare in no uncertain terms that the policy of the State of Florida will favor a presumption of commercial operation and individual liberty with no toleration for unending and unjustified impediments to that liberty; and 
 
WHEREAS, in light of these recently enacted reforms, the widespread vaccination of Florida residents, and the sufficient supply of vaccines for all eligible Florida residents, I find that it is necessary for the State of Florida to enhance its rapid and orderly restoration and recovery from the COVID-19 emergency by preempting and suspending all remaining local emergency restrictions on individuals and businesses and to return day-to-day life back to normal everywhere in the State.
 
                      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 mitigate the adverse and unintended consequences of the COVID-19 emergency and to accelerate the State’s recovery, all local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on individuals and businesses are hereby suspended.
 
           Section 2.        This order eliminates and supersedes any existing emergency order or ordinance issued by a county or municipality that imposes restrictions or mandates upon businesses or individuals due to the COVID-19 emergency.
 
Section 3.        For the remaining duration of the state of emergency initiated by Executive Order 20-52, no county or municipality may renew or enact an emergency order or ordinance, using a local state of emergency or using emergency enactment procedures under Chapters 125, 252, or 166, Florida Statutes, that imposes restrictions or mandates upon businesses or individuals due to the COVID-19 emergency. 
 
Section 4.        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 population.  Only orders and ordinances within the scope of Section 1 based on a local state of emergency or on emergency enactment procedures due to the COVID-19 emergency are hereby eliminated and preempted.
 
Section 5.        This order supersedes Sections 2 and 3 of Executive Order 20-244.
 
Section 6.        This order is effective immediately.