Florida Governor to Pardon COVID Offenses

Aaron Gould Sheinin

May 17, 2021

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

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to pardon anyone charged with violating a COVID-19 restriction in the state.

In an executive order Thursday, DeSantis said the pardons would apply to anyone who "has been or could be arrested for, charged with, found guilty of, convicted of, subject to a withhold of adjudication for, subject to a plea of guilty or nolo contendere for, or otherwise subject to a criminal sentence or penalty for all non-violent offenses related to local government COVID-19 restrictions."

The Republican governor said the move is necessary to make sure "Florida experiences a rapid and orderly restoration and recovery from the COVID-19 emergency and that systems of justice are fair everywhere in the state in relation to the emergency."

The executive order covers criminal penalties for things like refusing to practice social distancing or adhering to mask mandates.

But the order says it does not apply to any fine or citation the state issues and does not apply to assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, or other healthcare facilities.

In an appearance on Fox News, DeSantis said mask mandates, like one in Broward County, were "total overreach."

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