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Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to let COVID-19 emergency order expire

Order extended every 60 days since March 2020
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Posted at 1:26 PM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 10:57:18-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It appears as though Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has opted not to extend the declared "State of Emergency" through Executive Order 20-52, and that will likely have an impact on mask-wearing in your city, county and school district.

For the order to be extended, it was supposed to be signed once again by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 26. However, his office has made no announcements nor posted an updated executive order on websites for the State of Florida.

With it looking like the governor has rescinded the executive order, legal experts said that means it's up to Florida counties and cities to pass their own emergency orders.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

Since March 2020, 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.