With the COVID-19 vaccination drive being in full swing in the United States, Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, announced his decision to end all COVID-19 related restrictions imposed in the state. The decision, which was announced on Monday, is subject to be effective immediately.
The restrictions were lifted in a two-part effort, the first of which was signing an executive order to remove restrictions till July 1, post which a new law, signed by DeSantis on Monday, would ensure the continuity of a restriction-less Florida.
"That's the evidence thing to do," the Republican governor said at a news conference in St Petersburg, referring to the reduction in infections and deaths as the vaccine rollout continues.
According to the data provided by the US health department, around 9 million people have already been administered with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, reported AFP.
"At this point, the people that haven't been vaccinated is certainly not because of a lack of supply or a lack of availability," he added.
The vaccine was made available last Friday for everyone over the age of 16 without the need for proof of state residency, a document that had been required since January to cope with the initial high demand.
This enabled vaccinations for undocumented migrants, who had difficulty proving their residency, and, tacitly, so-called vaccine tourism, reported AFP.
DeSantis criticised the strict security measures that remain in place in other states.
He said that those who still say they need to police residents are therefore saying they "don't believe in the vaccines."
Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available, in many cases without appointment, at federal, state and county centres; in addition to numerous pharmacies and supermarkets, reported AFP.
DeSantis added that neither the state nor county and municipal governments can close businesses for failing to comply with pandemic measures.