TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is holding off on issuing a “stay at home” order across the state but is implementing new restrictions on people coming into the state from certain areas.
The governor issued an executive order on Monday directing anyone coming to Florida from “areas with substantial community spread” to self-isolate for 14 days. The executive order specifically names the New York tri-state area, which includes New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
On Sunday, New York passed Washington state, the initial epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, in the number of fatal cases. Only China, Italy and Spain have reported more cases than the U.S.
In doing so, Desantis hopes to avoid a statewide shelter-in-place order like New York issued this weekend, which he claims sent people flocking to the Sunshine State to avoid the shutdown.
“That’s the only way we can be sure that virus is not going to be re-introduced in the State of Florida and then spread,” the governor said in an evening news conference.
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Flights from the Big Apple account for big business at Tampa International Airport, with an average of 26 flights arriving each day. While announcing the new restrictions, DeSantis said more than 190 direct flights from the NYC area were Florida-bound on Monday alone.
“And I would reckon, given the outbreak they have there, that every single flight has on it someone who is positive for COVID-19,” he said.
A Tampa International spokeswoman tells 8 On Your Side all inbound passengers will be sequestered, screened, and have their temperatures checked.
The governor’s executive order does not apply to airline employees or anyone traveling for military or virus-response reasons. Anyone who does not comply could face 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
“Hopefully that will be a deterrent for people,” DeSantis said. “If you’re just simply trying to escape to avoid restrictions put into place in your own state, that is probably not a good idea.”
DeSantis warned that staying with family and friends upon arriving in Florida does not count, as close contact with family and friends is frequently how the disease is spread.
While the order technically goes into effect first thing Tuesday, Tampa International Airport tells 8 On Your Side it was not given enough notice to have resources in place to meet that deadline.
The guidance given to the airport also only includes direct flights, meaning people fleeing New York who use a connecting flight through another airport could theoretically slip through the cracks and avoid the quarantine guidelines.
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