NewsFlorida News


Governor Ron DeSantis to make a decision on COVID-19 emergency order

Posted at 5:23 AM, Apr 26, 2021

Editor’s Note: Original publication of this story indicated an 11:59 p.m. deadline on Monday, April 26. However, according to the governor’s office, the deadline is 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27. That is the exact time he signed the previous extension. Shortly before 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the governor's office released a memorandum announcing Governor Ron DeSantis was extending the declared "State of Emergency" through Executive Order 21-94.

Will Florida Governor Ron DeSantis extend the declared "State of Emergency" through Executive Order 20-52?

His decision will have an impact on mask-wearing in your city, county and school district.

According to the governor’s office, Governor Ron DeSantis has until 4:45 p.m. today to make the decision. (See editor’s note above.)

ABC Action News made numerous attempts for clarification on Monday, but no calls or emails were returned.

If the governor rescinds the executive order, legal experts tell us that means it's up to Florida counties and cities to pass their own emergency orders.

RELATED: Governor DeSantis' executive order to expire at midnight, here's how it will impact you

With it looking like the governor has rescinded the executive order, legal experts tell us that means it's up to Florida counties and cities to pass their own emergency orders.

"Once the state order expires, it is going to be left to the counties and municipalities to determine their own futures," said attorney David Singer, who is a partner with Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick, a law firm in the Tampa Bay area.

Singer said those local emergency orders determine whether or not you'll be wearing a mask in those areas.

Singer also said school districts will only be able to enforce mask-wearing if there is some sort of emergency order in place, whether that be one passed by the state or your local county or city agency. He said local governments are going to have to communicate these changes to families.

"There's going to have to be a pretty significant amount of education done in the communities that do decide to move forward with their own rules and their own ordinances in the absence of an overarching state order," Singer said.

ABC Action News checked in with several Tampa Bay area counties to find out where they stand on mask-wearing policies.

Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties all have local emergency orders in place and each of those school districts said they will continue to have students and staff wear masks.

Pasco County does not have a mask order in place, but Pasco County School Superintendent Kurt Browning said district policy allows them to require face masks through the rest of this school year.

In a statement posted on Facebook Monday, the district said they "remain optimistic that masks will no longer be necessary in the fall."

Pinellas County commissioners are set to meet Tuesday to extend their local emergency order until at least May 7.

Manatee County school leaders are also meeting and mask-wearing will likely be a topic of discussion.

Since March 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis has been extending his original emergency order in 60-day increments, declaring a public health emergency.

It's directed the state to ask for assistance from the federal government. As many have seen out at federally-supported vaccine sites, the order has allowed the state to deploy the Florida National Guard.

The governor's order has also allowed state and local agencies to take additional precautions to keep workers safe from exposure, like closing down government buildings.

Finally, it's allowed licensed healthcare workers, who may be certified in other states, to practice in Florida in order to get all hands-on deck for COVID-19 testing, vaccination and care.