TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - New Yorkers and their neighbors from the tri-state region no longer have to self-quarantine for two weeks after entering Florida.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had repeatedly disparaged New York as an example of how not to manage the coronavirus pandemic, quietly lifted travel restrictions Thursday on people coming to Florida from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The three states are not the coronavirus hotspots they were when the 14-day self-quarantine restrictions were put in place on March 23.
DeSantis lifted the restrictions Thursday in an executive order that focused on ensuring restaurants comply with employee coronavirus-screening protocols updated by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shortly after issuing the executive order, DeSantis held an event at the University of North Florida to call for resuming high-school athletics amid the pandemic. He did not mention lifting the travel restrictions during the event.
Florida had a relatively low number of coronavirus cases when DeSantis put in place the self-quarantine requirements, along with setting up a checkpoint for motorists on Interstate 95 north of Jacksonville.
But the coronavirus conditions have since reversed, with Florida facing a massive surge in cases while New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have seen improvements.
Florida added 7,650 coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing its total to 510,389. Also, the state reported 120 resident deaths because of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. In all, 7,747 Floridians have died.
New York, which has averaged 662 new cases a day during the past week, reported nine coronavirus deaths and 639 cases on Wednesday. The state has had 32,431 residents die because of the virus but hasn’t reported more than 20 deaths in a day since June 23.
Connecticut, where 4,413 people have died from the virus since March, marked a second consecutive day Wednesday without any new deaths.
New Jersey on Wednesday announced 378 additional cases and eight deaths. New Jersey noted that only three of the latest deaths occurred in August. New Jersey has had 15,842 deaths since March.
In June, as conditions in the northern states improved, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut slapped a danger-zone label on travelers from the Sunshine State. They required travelers from Florida to quarantine for 14 days when entering the tri-state area.
At times during the pandemic, DeSantis has mocked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, for requiring nursing homes to accept hospital patients who have been diagnosed with the highly contagious virus and for a large number of deaths in New York’s long-term care facilities.
When asked in June about the tri-state quarantine of Florida travelers, DeSantis told reporters that governors have the “prerogative to do what they need to do,” before taking a jab at Cuomo.
“I would just ask if that’s done, just please do not quarantine any Floridians in the nursing homes in New York,” he said.
Meanwhile, as Florida and other states saw increases in cases, Cuomo accused them of “offering excuses” to explain the data.
“The numbers aren't going up because you're doing more testing. The numbers are going up because more people are getting sick,” Cuomo said in June after issuing the travel restrictions on Florida and other states.
“You look at Arizona, you look at Texas, you look at all these states, you know what you see?” Cuomo said. “You see an arrow going up, because it was misguided to say we're going to reopen the economy. What you're doing is you're putting people's lives in jeopardy, and you're hurting the economy.”