Ron DeSantis claims Florida lockdowns lasted weeks, but some of his own orders lasted months
Ron DeSantis. Image via AP.

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While the Governor says he blocked local restrictions, some were in place for more than a year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an abbreviated account of Florida’s reopening during an interview with Fox News host Kayleigh McEnany.

The presidential candidate told a Fox News audience his state only imposed COVID-19 restrictions for a few weeks. In reality, Florida enforced restrictions through most of 2020 on DeSantis’ order.

McEnany raised criticism from conservatives that Florida issued more restrictions than states like Georgia. But DeSantis suggested Florida more effectively stopped local lockdowns.

“What I did more aggressively than anyone was overrule local governments who were imposing these restrictions,” he said in a clip shared by his campaign. “In Florida, the state government did not do very much. We’re talking about a few weeks. Some of the local governments — particularly in South Florida — were trying to impose mandates.”

But that’s, at best, an incomplete telling of Florida’s re-opening in 2020.

DeSantis in April 2020 ordered a statewide lockdown, weeks after Florida reported the first diagnosed COVID-19 cases on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

A month later, DeSantis did kick off a phased re-opening of the state. DeSantis suggested in his interview with McEnany that he called off all local restrictions.

“We overruled that. We said you can’t close business. You can’t fine people for not wearing a mask,” he said.

“And we actually issued a blanket pardon for anyone who local government had tried to enforce COVID restrictions against. That is really what opened the floodgate. ‘Cause you can say the state is open, but if every other municipality is doing Faucism, that’s not a free state. We pried the state open at the local level and I think that was really the secret to Florida doing very well.”

That retelling leaves out important timetables. In fact, while he singled out South Florida jurisdictions, DeSantis initially would not let the most populated South Florida counties — Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach — reopen at the same time as other parts of the state which had lower rates of infections.

He allowed Palm Beach to begin reopening in early May, but Miami-Dade wasn’t allowed to kick off reopening until weeks later.

And while DeSantis said state lockdowns existed for only a few weeks, the phased reopening of Florida lasted through most of the year. Schools remained closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, and had social distancing requirements when the new school year started in the fall.

It wasn’t until early June, when a second phase of reopening occurred in most of the state, that bars, movie theaters and casinos could reopen. At that point, they still had to limit occupancy to 50% normal levels.

It was not until late September, five months after the lockdown started, that DeSantis preempted most restrictions on businesses. The state entered its Phase Three Reopening on Sept. 26, a step that had been delayed as Florida saw infections skyrocket over the summer.

But even at that point, DeSantis allowed local governments to limit restaurant capacity to 50%.

He did, at that point, forbid local governments from issuing mask mandates and fining those in violation. But he did not issue the same ban on school district mask mandates until July 2021, before the 2021-22 school year.

DeSantis did not issue his pardon waiving all fines on local restriction violations until June 2021.

Notably, DeSantis faced pressure from the Left throughout the pandemic to do more, and resistance to such calls certainly raised the Governor’s national profile. That arguably positioned him for a viable run for President, which he launched in May.

But while DeSantis did clearly move more quickly than many Democrats wanted in lifting certain COVID-19 restrictions, arguing his statewide mandates lasted only “a few weeks” is underselling the actions the state took amid uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Tjb

    June 22, 2023 at 11:56 am

    Looks like Ron has dementia. Sad, next he will forget that he stated that Our President has the same condition.

    • Tallahassee Insider

      June 22, 2023 at 4:16 pm

      He does. I work for the state in Tallahassee and I hear things.
      There are rumors he has dementia from syphilis.

  • PeterH

    June 22, 2023 at 1:22 pm

    OMG ….. DeSantis lies! What a surprise! “I’m shocked Ricky that another Florida presidential candidate lies!”

    Here is South Florida I remember cruise ships unable to disembark because of DeSantis’s policies! I also remember reading about a plan to stop traffic on 95 and the Turnpike…… for fear of New Yorker City residents spreading the virus here in Florida.

    Republicans are America’s biggest problem!

    Vote all Republicans out of office!

    • Interesting idea

      June 22, 2023 at 2:13 pm

      And the Democrat states were locked down for year longer😅.

      • PeterH

        June 22, 2023 at 9:36 pm

        Not a single State in the USA was “locked down!”

        Dad could take their children for a ride in the country, grandma could go to the grocery store, and Mom could go to the pharmacy for medications. NO ONE WAS LOCKED DOWN.

      • Dr. Franklin Waters

        June 22, 2023 at 11:36 pm

        That’s weird because I travelled to Illinois and New York during that time and nobody was locked down. Huh.

        Where do you get your news from?

    • Tom

      June 23, 2023 at 7:52 am

      I was driving back and forth to Vermont during the early stages of the pandemic and on three separate occasions, I was pulled over after crossing the border with Georgia, swabbed and required to give my address and phone number so they could find me if I tested positive. We were the only state on the east coast doing this. After they forced businesses to reopen, three people I knew, who worked in restaurants, died from covid. He’s completely full of it. We’re the third most populous state in the nation and we had the third highest death toll. Desantis did nothing to help anyone.

  • PeterH

    June 22, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Here’s a statistic DeSantis can be proud of…..and he should shout it out on his failing campaign trail:

    “The fact remains that per capita more Floridians died of COVID than residents of California”!

    Sell that one to your MAGA Klowns!

  • eva

    June 22, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    I’m making a decent compensation from home $60k/week , which was astonishing under a year prior I was jobless in a horrendous economy. I was honored with these guidelines and presently it’s my obligation sv09 to show kindness and share it with Everyone
    Detail Are Here———————————————————>>>

  • Michael K

    June 22, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    He will lie about anything. And everything.

  • Al-Bin Al DeSaster

    June 22, 2023 at 7:15 pm

    You know DeSaster wasn’t born in the US; he has an Ivory Coast birth certificate.

    The More You Know™️

  • University of North Florida

    June 23, 2023 at 6:21 am

    Garbage!! Absolute worst possible choice!

  • University of North Florida

    June 23, 2023 at 6:31 am

    Every single person that lives here knows that’s absolute bs!!

  • University of North Florida

    June 23, 2023 at 7:17 am

    Well my kid had a virtual graduation from HS so gfy!!!!

  • Dont Say FLA

    June 23, 2023 at 7:57 am

    Until Rhonda claims incompetence, I will continue not to believe anything they claim.

  • M. Mouse

    June 23, 2023 at 9:21 am

    Let’s Go Governor Goofy!

    • Tom

      June 24, 2023 at 1:59 pm

      I was thinking Grumpy Sleepy or Dopey but Goofy works as well 🙂

  • Books are still locked down

    June 23, 2023 at 10:01 am

    Are books no longer locked down?

    Are drag queens free to leave their houses again?

    If either answer is “yes,” can we infer that to mean Rhonda’s campaign has unofficially been ended?

  • Covid Was The Rapture

    June 23, 2023 at 10:03 am

    Covid was the rapture. All true Christians were taken to be with Jesus. The remaining so-called Christians that were left on Earth, they are nothing but charlatans.

Comments are closed.


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