In an effort to control the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus, Gov. Ron DeSantis is issuing an executive order requiring 14-day self-quarantines for airline travelers from the Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York) who are coming to Florida.
DeSantis announced the plan during a late Monday afternoon news conference.
DeSantis also said he would not issue a statewide shelter in place order as New York and a handful of other states have done, because coronavirus is not impacting all parts of Florida in the same way, despite a call to do so from St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Florida’s mayors and county officials will continue to lead, but only @GovRonDeSantis can provide statewide uniformity and eliminate confusion. Let’s not inch toward the inevitable. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/UiKyfSuOKW
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) March 23, 2020
Instead, DeSantis said he would focus on air travelers who are fleeing one of the nation’s hot spots for coronavirus.
“Today there are over 190 direct flights from the New York City area to the state of Florida and I would reckon given the outbreak there that every single flight has someone on it who is positive for Covid-19,” DeSantis said. He said he talked to the president about the federal government imposing restrictions on those flights, but lacking that, DeSantis is taking his own action. “Anybody traveling from those regions in New York or New Jersey to the state of Florida is going to have to do a mandatory 14 days self-isolation. That’s the only way we can be sure that virus is not reintroduced in the state of Florida and then spread.”
He hopes the executive order will serve as a deterrent for people trying to avoid restrictions in their own states.
The executive order will only apply to airline travel, not to people who drive to Florida.
“It’s not practical to do automobiles. We have an open country, an open society. That’s great and we like that. At the same time, it’s challenging,” DeSantis said. “The airline is little bit different. If someone is in their own car alone coming down, I don’t know if you are exposing people if you isolate or you are alone. But if you are on that airplane, you are potentially exposing other people, certainly the people who are close to you.”
He said it’s a criminal offense to violate quarantine orders. “People could end up being held accountable here in Florida if they buck the law,” DeSantis said.
The governor was asked how the order would be enforced.
“We’ll likely have local law enforcement or state law enforcement and someone from the Department of Health meet the flight. There will be some information taken and I think they will do temperature checks and they will be told, you need to self-quarantine. If they say they are going to stay with family, that is not self-quarantining because the No. 1 way this is transmitted is close contact, very frequently with family members,” DeSantis said.
During his news conference, DeSantis said the order would apply to people flying from New York or New Jersey, but the executive order, made public a couple of hours later, also included Connecticut. Click on the link below to read the order.
Hillsborough County’s Emergency Policy Group earlier Monday turned down a plea by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor to issue a stay a home order for the county. In a Facebook post, Castor said the city of Tampa is discussing its own stay at home order.
Without a stay at home order, “people are going die,” Castor said. “It’s all about flattening the curve. Taking action and taking it quickly … The longer you wait, the more lives are going to be lost.”