TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — While at Miami-Dade College to sign Senate Bill 7034 into law on Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis continued his stance of strong opposition to COVID-19 mandates and lockdowns, and criticized political opponents who pushed for mandates while “escaping” to Florida’s freedom on vacation.
He reiterated a now oft-repeated promise that Florida would never again lockdown over a virus, a position that has fueled his rhetoric and policy agenda since at least September 2020.
“So just let me say very clearly to all Floridians, you just saw Philadelphia impose an indoor mandate. You’re going to have potentially some of these other deep blue jurisdictions go back to restrictions and mandates. You look what’s happening in Shanghai, they have everybody under a brutal lockdown,” DeSantis said. “So I just want to be very clear. As long as I sit in the chair in which I sit, no Floridian will be restricted, mandated, or locked down in any possible way.”
Continuing with the commentary on lockdowns, DeSantis repeated comments he’d made several times before, targeted at who he calls “lockdown politicians” and their “COVID theater,” and criticizing them for visiting Florida as their own constituents deal with the lockdowns and mandates they promote at home.
“And so when you see some of these folks who want to impose that, and let’s just be clear, you look over the last two years, there’s a cottage industry that was developed of lockdown politicians and media personalities, who would either impose or support lockdown policies in their jurisdictions, or advocate it on their TV shows, criticize Florida mercilessly, and then the first chance they get to get out from under the yolk of those bad policies, you see them in Miami, or Palm Beach, or all of these other places,” DeSantis said. “If I had a dollar for every lockdown politician that escaped their own policies to come to our free state, I would be set for life, that’s just a fact.”
It’s unclear exactly how many dollars to visitors DeSantis is referring to, or if it includes multiple visits or multiple days. The governor kept speaking, taking issue with the usefulness of the policies promoted for lockdowns to fight off COVID-19, and questioning exactly what their purpose was. DeSantis said the mandates were more about control than mitigation.
“The issue is, if they thought their policies really were necessary, and these mitigations really were effective, they would be abiding by it. They’re not abiding by it because they know it’s all about politics and control. So that’s why they don’t wear the mask, that’s why they don’t do this stuff, because they know it is COVID theater,” DeSantis said. “So we don’t have any tolerance for COVID theater in the state of Florida. I can tell you, this state would not be booming the way it is if we had had COVID theater. People know that this is the free state, they know that they can come here and make their own decisions, they know they’re not going to be harassed to show medical papers to go have a hamburger somewhere.”
He continued, describing Florida as a place where people can live free, and that the state would not change that for its residents, touching on educational policies and more general COVID-19 stances Florida has taken under his leadership.
“They know they’re going to be able to enjoy life, so we are never going to waver from that. I will say that if it weren’t for our leadership, we would’ve had kids locked out of school for a year, throughout this state, we would have had hundreds of thousands of people tossed out of work,” DeSantis said. “We would have had small businesses and family-owned businesses that would have collapsed. Instead of that, we weren’t locking those people down, we were lifting them up. That was the right thing to do.”