ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a news conference Monday anyone flying from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to Florida will be placed under a mandatory 14-day quarantine, saying again that he does not have plans to place the state under a shelter-in-place due to coronavirus.
DeSantis said he and other state officials worked to follow every guideline from the Centers for Disease Control and implemented a three-step strategy.
“The first was to stop the introduction of the virus into the state of Florida, number two, we had to protect the elderly,” DeSantis said. “Number three, we wanted to expand access to testing.”
The governor also responded to questions regarding why Florida had not been placed under the shelter-in-place condition as is being done in places like New York.
“I think given our circumstances, that it would not be advisable,” DeSantis said. “It would be a very blunt instrument. When you order people to shelter-in-place, you are consigning probably hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their jobs, you’re throwing their lives into potential disarray. If you look at Florida’s situation right now this is not a virus that’s impacting every corner of the state, we have 20 counties that have zero cases.”
[READ MORE: Coronavirus: How Florida compares to other states]
Starting today, passengers arriving into FL from the New York Tri-State area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York) must self-quarantine for 14 days due to COVID-19, according to @GovRonDeSantis Executive Order.— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) March 24, 2020
For more details and exemptions: https://t.co/255tpDXMkW
In a briefing in The Villages earlier the same day, DeSantis said that when New York went into shelter-in-place provisions, many people left and traveled to Florida.
“Today there are over 190 direct flights from the New York City area to Florida,” DeSantis said. “I would reckon given the outbreak there that every single flight has someone on it that is positive for COVID-19, and so as we’re working to stop it in the state of Florida.”
DeSantis said that since the federal government had not put any domestic travel restrictions into place, Florida would take the initiative.
“If the federal government is not going to do any restrictions on domestic flights, what we’re going to do in Florida, and I’ll be issuing an executive order, anybody traveling from that region, New York, New Jersey, is going to have to do a mandatory 14-day self-isolation,” DeSantis said. That’s the only way we can be sure that the virus is not going to be reintroduced into Florida and spread."
Gov. DeSantis said local law enforcement, state law enforcement, and health officials will meet travelers on their flights from New York. Connecticut and New Jersey to conduct temperature checks.
They’ll be told you need to self-quarantine," Gov. DeSantis said. “If they’re told they’re staying with family - that’s not self-quarantining.”
This order does not apply to anyone employed by the airlines and anyone who is performing military, emergency or health response, according to Gov. DeSantis.
The Orlando International Airport released a statement Tuesday showing support for the governor’s executive order.
“We support Gov. DeSantis’ order as a means to implement measures that promote the safety, security and health of our passengers and employees,” said Phil Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “For our part, we mobilized quickly overnight to accommodate the executive order and are prepared to work with the Department of Health in screening passengers as they arrive in Orlando.”
MCO officials said the airport has approximately 45 daily direct flights from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, receiving the majority of the airport’s domestic passengers from the northeast region, particularly the Greater New York area.
The order starts at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, according to the governor.
Gov. DeSantis said anyone from a New Jersey, New York or Connecticut flight is responsible for self-isolation including transportation, lodging, food and medical care.
Anyone who violates the order could face a misdemeanor charge.
Anyone found guilty of this charge could face prison time and/or pay a fine.