Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued an executive order mandating a 14-day self-quarantine or isolation period for travelers coming to Florida from airports in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The order marks the first large-scale attempt by a state to impose a self-quarantine period for domestic travelers and underscores the expansive measures elected officials are attempting – and willing – to enact as the outbreak spreads. The move raises questions about how the state of Florida could enforce such an order and whether it will be a constitutional issue because the federal government regulates interstate business, such as air travel.
“I hereby direct all persons whose point of departure originates from outside the State of Florida in an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), and entering the State of Florida through airports to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter,” the executive order says.
Explaining the move at a press conference Monday, DeSantis, a Republican, said, “Today there’s over 190 direct flights from the New York City area to the state of Florida, and I would reckon, given the outbreak there, that every single flight has somebody on it who’s positive for Covid-19,” DeSantis, a Republican, said at a press conference Monday explaining the order.
He said travelers will be met on board planes by local or state law enforcement, as well as personnel from the Florida Department of Health, adding that passengers going to stay with family in Florida would not be exempt from the executive order.
“They’ll have to meet on the flight, there will be some information taken, and I think they’re going to do temperature checks, and they’re going to be told you have to self-quarantine,” DeSantis said.
The order states that violating “any isolation or quarantine directed by the Department of Health” is a second degree misdemeanor that could carry jail time, a fine or both.
The move comes as the death toll from the virus continues to climb and state and local governments hand down more aggressive social distancing requirements.
State health officials have reported more than 100 coronavirus-related deaths across the country in a single day for the first time since the outbreak, according to CNN Health’s tally. This brings to the total deaths nationwide in the US to 520, with the state of New York having the most deaths in a single state with 157.
While DeSantis has been active on some coronavirus measures in Florida, he’s faced harsh criticism for avoiding a statewide mandate to close beaches, instead showing deference to local municipalities to make that decision.
The governor “doesn’t want to be responsible if anything goes wrong,” said a top Republican operative in the state, adding that DeSantis “is just kind of a step or two behind everyone. He is not being proactive, he is not being as public.”
This story has been updated with additional details from the executive order.
CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.