Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with Donald Trump at the White House, April 28, 2020
Florida leads the US in daily Coronavirus deaths, but Governor Ron DeSantis — a diehard Trump ally who boasted at the White House in April of his “success” — has issued an order allowing restaurants and bars to operate at 100% capacity.
DeSantis announced his order on Friday, “There will not be limitations, from the state of Florida.”
The order blocks local government from limiting restaurants to less than 50% capacity, and he warned, “If a local [government] restricts between 50 and 100, they’ve got to provide the justification and they’ve got to identify what the costs are involved with doing that are.”
Communities are also blocked from any Coronavirus ordinance preventing a person from working or operating a business.
DeSantis said he fully expects the city of Tampa to host a “full Super Bowl”, the high-profile US football championship, on February 7.
Mayors were not informed of the order before DeSantis’s press conference.
The announcement came as Florida announced another 120 deaths, the highest toll on Friday of any US state. The state was third-highest with 2,847 cases.
Florida’s total of 13,915 deaths is the fifth-highest in the US, and it is third in total cases with 695,887.
US Passes 7 Million Cases
The state was hit relatively lightly in the first wave of the pandemic in March and April. However, DeSantis eagerly backed Trump’s “reopening” demand, against medical and public health advice, and was among the first Republican governors to lift Coronavirus measures by Trump’s May 1 deadline. Restaurants, bars, businesses, and beaches were quickly reopened, with many people failing to observe social distancing.
DeSantis was rewarded with the White House appearance with Trump.
The virus then surged across the state, putting hospitals at breaking point and killing thousands of Floridians.
The US reached the marker of 7 million cases on Friday, days after the death toll passed 200,000.
By the end of the day, deaths were 203,782 and confirmed cases were 7,033,925.