TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Following through on a statement he made on Fox News, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis granted a 60-day reprieve to Floridians who run afoul of local mask and social distancing ordinances.
That will be followed by executive pardons for all violators, he added.
DeSantis issued an executive order Thursday, that absolves "any individual or business that has been or could be arrested for, charged with, found guilty of, convicted of ... or otherwise subject to a criminal sentence or penalty for all non-violent offenses related to local government COVID-19 restrictions."
It follows his appearance this week on FOX News' Ingraham Angle program, in which he called local governments' punishments for breaking their COVID restrictions "a total overreach."
"When the clemency board meets in the coming weeks (June 16), we'll issue pardons ... for any Floridian that may have outstanding infractions for things like masks and social distancing," he said. "These (restrictions) should be advisory, not punitive."
Order comes on heels of gym owner arrests in Broward
DeSantis broke the news in the context of two Broward County gym owners who had been arrested at least three times and charged with misdemeanors after allowing patrons to work out without masks in violation of Broward's mask mandate.
The state's Board of Executive Clemency includes DeSantis, state CFO Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, all Republicans. The other member is Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat who is expected to challenge DeSantis' bid for reelection next year.
The governor needs only two additional votes to grant a pardon, which "unconditionally releases a person from punishment and forgives guilt for any Florida convictions," according to the state's clemency rules.
DeSantis had previously issued orders forbidding businesses from making customers show that they had been vaccinated and suspending all local COVID-19 emergency orders in Florida and rescinding fines.
His order this week "does not apply to any COVID-19 related orders or enforcement taken by the state" or "to assisted living facilities, hospitals, or other healthcare providers."
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to forgive violators of local COVID rules