Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Monday suspending all local COVID-19 rules, including those in Miami-Dade County and the Village of Key Biscayne. It’s not clear how quickly the Village will stop enforcing restrictions at the Community Center and other places.
Interim Manager Charles Press said he was conferring with the village’s legal team and planned to act quickly to take any legally-required steps. But he noted that private businesses, restaurants, and institutions still can still require patrons to follow safety procedures on private property.
Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey said DeSantis was engaging in “political grandstanding.” He said he was waiting to hear guidance from Press and the Village attorney about next steps and said he will try to promote safety to the extent he can.
“It’s incredibly irresponsible,” Davey said of the governor’s order. “What’s next, telling parents don’t provide proof of mumps and MMR vaccines for schools?”
DeSantis’ order takes effect immediately. It states “all local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on individuals and businesses are hereby suspended.”
“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do,” DeSantis said, arguing that continuing mask and other rules sends the wrong scientific message. “I think that folks that are saying that they need to be policing people at this point — if you’re saying that, you really are saying that you don’t believe in the vaccines, you don’t believe in the data.”
But while praising the vaccines, DeSantis made his announcement at a news conference in St. Petersburg where he signed a bill banning “vaccine passports” and many other provisions curtailing local government regulation.
In Key Biscayne, figures provided by Miami-Dade County showed that 9,742 people were reported to have completed vaccinations, about 70% of 13,902 being tallied. The numbers are far in excess of national and state averages. Since about 28% of the population is under 18, and vaccines are not yet provided to children under 16, the statistics suggest that nearly everyone in the Village who is eligible for vaccines has gotten them.
In recent days, a Change.Org petition started circulating to allow the Community Center to resume normal operations, signed by more than 100 residents, including Oscar Sardiñas, a member of Village’s Educational Advisory Board and candidate for Village Council last November.
“I would like to see some movement or some plans. I think we need it back and kids need it as well.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava criticized the governor’s actions.
“I’m deeply concerned by this decision,” she said in a statement. “We are still in a public health emergency and our economy has not fully rebounded from the crisis. Fewer than half of our residents have been vaccinated, and we face a growing threat from variants.”
This story has been updated to clarify that vaccines are currently not provided to children under age 16.