Florida governor Ron DeSantis on Monday lifted all Covid-19 restrictions in the US state, effective immediately, citing the effectiveness and availability of vaccines.
DeSantis signed a law invalidating local emergency orders — which impose restrictions due to Covid-19 — effective July 1, and then signed an executive order that bridges the gap between now and then.
“That’s the evidence thing to do,” the Republican governor said at a news conference in St Petersburg, referring to the reduction in infections and deaths as the vaccine rollout continues.
Nearly nine million people — out of a total of 23 million residents — have had at least one dose of the vaccine in Florida, according to the US health department.
“At this point, the people that haven’t been vaccinated is certainly not because a lack of supply or a lack of availability,” he added.
The vaccine was made available last Friday for everyone over the age of 16 without the need for proof of state residency, a document that had been required since January to cope with the initial high demand.
This enabled vaccinations for undocumented migrants, who had difficulty proving their residency, and, tacitly, so-called vaccine tourism.
DeSantis criticized the strict security measures that remain in place in other states.
He said that those who still say they need to police residents are therefore saying they “don’t believe in the vaccines.”
Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available, in many cases without appointment, at federal, state and county centers; in addition to numerous pharmacies and supermarkets.
DeSantis added that neither the state nor county and municipal governments can close businesses for failing to comply with pandemic measures.