A Florida mayor is urging people who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear masks indoors.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, a Democrat, stated, “I am announcing today that it is my official recommendation that Orange County return to the status in which it is recommended that all residents vaccinated and unvaccinated consider wearing facial coverings indoors when in crowded environments,” as WMFE reported.
County medical director Raul Pino echoed, “It makes a lot of sense what the mayor just announced. For those who are going to go into crowded environments indoors everyone should be masked. If you want to protect yourself. It is your choice, it is your decision, it’s not a mandate.”
One local Republican who opposed Demings stated, “It’s inappropriate; it’s wrong. The governor of the state of Florida has the authority, and the authority is what it is, and Jerry Demings needs to stop with his political games.”
The office of Florida GOP Ron DeSantis, asked for comment, stated, “Mayor Demings is free to make any recommendation he wishes, but he would not be able to enforce a county mandate under Florida law because county governments cannot impose civil or criminal penalties on citizens who choose not to wear a mask,” as FOX 35 reported.
In May, DeSantis announced live on national television that he would make sure that Mike and Jillian Carnevale, gym owners from Plantation, Florida, were pardoned after they had been repeatedly arrested for refusing to enforce a mask mandate. DeSantis told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham:
It’s a total overreach, Laura. This is exactly what we ordered against last summer, many, many months ago. And so I was actually just recently briefed on this case, and we looked at it and so I’m glad you had Mike and Jillian on, and I’m also glad to be on to be able to say that effective tomorrow morning I’m going to sign a reprieve under my constitutional authority, so that’ll delay the case for 60 days against both of them. And then when our clemency board meets in the coming weeks, we’ll issue pardons not only for Mike and Jillian, but for any Floridian that may have outstanding infractions for things like masks and social distancing.
“The fact is, it’s not even right to be wearing masks when you’re exercising,” he continued. “The World Health Organization advises against it. It’s not healthy for people to be doing that in the first place. So it was a bad restriction. But these things with health should be advisory; they should not be punitive. And so we’re happy to use our constitutional authority. I think they’ve been treated poorly and fortunately they’ve got a governor that cares.”
In September 2020, DeSantis stated, “All outstanding fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals are suspended. I think we need to get away from trying to penalize people for social distancing and just work with people constructively.”