TAMPA (WFLA) – Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state clemency board pardoned all Floridians who were arrested or fined for violating local COVID restrictions.
“This action is necessary so that we can recover, have a good transition to normal operations, and also just a recognition that a lot of this stuff was way, way overboard,” DeSantis said.
The board’s move followed an executive order DeSantis issued May 3 suspending all local government’s restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mike and Jill Carnevale, who attended Wednesday’s meeting in Tallahassee, own a gym in Plantation and were arrested a number of times last summer for refusing to enforce a Broward County mask mandate at their facility.
“Floridians like Mike and Jillian Carnevale should have never faced criminal charges for not requiring masks in their businesses,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Today, we took action in Florida to reject the overreach of local authorities through unnecessary and unscientific mask mandates. No business should face economic ruin and be punished for alleged violations of local orders that are unreasonably restrictive of rights and liberties.”
The governor said in a statement, “these actions are essential to ensure that Florida experiences a rapid restoration and recovery from the COVID-19 emergency, that systems of justice are fair everywhere in our state, and that Floridians are free from burdensome and unscientific local regulations.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried voted against the proposal and released this statement:
“I voted today to uphold our laws, while our so-called pro-law enforcement Governor is actively encouraging people to break the law with politically-motivated stunts like this. We’ve seen what happens when rogue citizens are empowered by misguided leaders. We have laws for a reason. We may not agree with all of them, but we are obligated to follow them as the price of a civil society. Local leaders made choices to protect health, safety, and local economies during an unprecedented health crisis. We cannot allow this Governor to turn Florida into a ‘cradle of the insurrection’ while we have hundreds of thousands of deserving Floridians waiting for relief from their fines and fees to regain their right to vote.”