Florida legislature moves to permanently ban Covid-19 mask and vaccine mandates

by Alex Caldwell

Photo: Alamy

The Florida House is deciding whether to adopt legislation to protect state residents from mandates related to Covid-19.

House Bill 1013, sponsored by state Rep. Philip Griffitts, R-Panama City Beach, would codify an existing executive order from GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis which prohibits businesses, government agencies, and schools from imposing medical mandates.

The measure would also block employers from requiring workers to wear face coverings or provide proof of vaccination.

“I think we’ve learned a lot over the past two and a half plus years that there has been some direct harm based on the science that we’ve received,” Griffitts said of the resolution.

The state representative also claimed that lawmakers needed to make decisions based on science, which he said has changed since the pandemic first began.

“Some of the science we’ve seen over the last two years has been proven to be false,” he added. “A lot of elected officials were asked to be public health experts over the last few years and very few public officials are health experts.”

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also lobbied against “ineffective” Covid-19 mandates, blocking public and private institutions from imposing vaccine and mask requirements per executive order in 2021.

Following his landslide reelection victory in November, DeSantis is now looking to make his executive orders permanent.

“Today, I announced an initiative to make protections against coercive biomedical polices permanent,” the governor tweeted shortly after announcing that he wanted to ban all mandates related to Covid-19 in January.

“When the world lost its mind, Florida was a refuge of sanity, serving strongly as freedom’s linchpin,” DeSantis stated in the press release. “These measures will ensure Florida remains this way and will provide landmark protections for free speech for medical practitioners.”

House Bill 1013 was proposed in February, and would prohibit Covid-19 vaccine passports, vaccine and mask mandates in schools and businesses, and the hiring or firing of employees based on their vaccination status.

The bill has made it to the Florida House Commerce Committee, and must be voted on in full by the state’s Republican-led House and Senate in order to be signed into law by DeSantis.

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