MEMORANDUM: Executive Order 21-102 Suspending All Remaining Local Government Mandates and Restrictions Based on the COVID-19 State of Emergency

 Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-102, Suspending All Remaining Local Government Mandates and Restrictions Based on the COVID‑19 State of Emergency.

A copy of Executive Order 21-102 is provided below.

STATE OF FLORIDA

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOREXECUTIVE 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.
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