On Tuesday, speaking at Okeechobee Steakhouse in West Palm Beach, Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who has withstood barrages of criticism from the political Left for his refusal to implement harsh lockdowns, like many Democratic governors across the nation, asserted that restaurants will stay open in Florida. “We just want to send a message: Some may want to shut you down; we want to pull you up,” he said. “We’ve got your back.”
DeSantis began, “We’re happy to be here at Okeechobee Steakhouse to really send a message that at a time when folks in our service industries, particularly restaurants, lodging, and hospitality, have kind of taken it on the chin, particularly in other states, where they’ve been completely shut down. We just want to send a message: Some may want to shut you down; we want to pull you up. We’ve got your back.”
“If you’re somebody who’s a waitress or a cook or you’re a family-owned business, you’re an important part of our state,” he continued. “You’re working folks, who are working hard to make a living; you have every right to do that. You can take it to the bank in the state of Florida; you’re going to have that right defended by the governor.”
DeSantis turned to some data: “You know, there’s a lot of talk when it comes to COVID about the kind of infections, and tracing and everything, and at the beginning of this, restaurants in particular were singled out as kind of like, this is a place that’s really problematic. Most of the contact tracing that’s been done has restaurants as very low in terms of where these infections can be traced to. New York just did their big one and put it out I think yesterday or the day before, and they had 1.4% of infections traced to restaurants and bars.”
“So it doesn’t mean it can’t happen here, but I think we have to understand the vast, vast majority of infections are occurring in people’s homes, particularly if you have people getting together,” he surmised. “So closing a restaurant for indoor dining is going to lead to more people doing that in private homes, anyway.”
DeSantis then championed the rights of citizens to make their own, best-informed decisions: “But here’s the thing: even if you think that it’s more than 1.4%, the appropriate response to that is to inform people about situations where you may have a higher risk, not to shut down. Let individuals make decisions about what they’re comfortable doing. I can tell you, we’ve worked with these folks across Florida, and I know Okeechobee’s no different: they put every effort to creating a safe environment and a healthy environment. They’re not going to get customers unless they do that, and I know that that’s what they’ve done here at Okeechobee Steakhouse.”
He concluded, “And so we’re coming up on Christmas; it’s an important time of year for a lot of people, and we just want to let people know that if you’re somebody who’s been working hard, you’re a worker in one of these industries, we’re standing with you 100%. We know what you’ve done; we know what you’ve sacrificed, but we also know how much these jobs mean to you and how much these industries mean to the state of Florida.”
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