Florida Won't Face Lockdowns or Mask Mandates, DeSantis Says

Carolyn Crist

December 01, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Floridians shouldn't expect any additional lockdowns or mask mandates during the pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday during his first coronavirus press briefing in a month.

DeSantis claimed that these measures don't work, though the CDC recommends the use of face masks and mitigation measures to slow the spread of the virus.

"The lie of the lockdown was that if you just locked down, then you can beat the virus," he said. "Then why are people having to lockdown two or three times then?"

States enacted shelter-in-place orders at the beginning of the pandemic to "flatten the curve" of coronavirus cases and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. Throughout the year, states lifted restrictions and reopened businesses based on local community spread of the virus. Now that some states are reaching hospital capacity again, governors in California and Ohio have suggested potential stay-at-home restrictions again.

DeSantis said Monday that won't happen in Florida, emphasizing "No lockdowns. No fines. No school closures … That is totally off the table."

The state reported 6,486 new cases on Monday, nearing 1 million total cases, according to the Florida Department of Health. More than 4,100 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, as compared with about 2,300 on Nov. 1, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

DeSantis also argued against a face mask mandate that requires people to wear face coverings in public.

"I'm opposed to mandates, period. I don't think they work," he said. "People in Florida wear them when they go out. I don't think you have to be strung up by a bayonet to do it."

Several Florida mayors, including both Republicans and Democrats, disagreed with DeSantis on Monday and said they want to be able to enforce guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Nobody's putting up a bayonet. All we're asking and pleading the governor to do is use his bully pulpit to tell people to wear masks," Dan Gelber, mayor of Miami Beach, told WPLG Local 10.

In Miami Beach, city officials are issuing face mask citations again as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

"This is sort of absurd," Gelber said about DeSantis' message. "It's not healthy, and it's going to end up killing people."

Sources

Fox 13, "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is holding a press conference on education and COVID-19 in Kissimmee."

Florida Department of Health, "Current situation in Florida, updated Nov. 30, 2020."

COVID Tracking Project, "Data: Florida."

WPLG Local 10, "DeSantis' promise: No more lockdowns, no face mask mandates."

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