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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 24, 202011:50 AM EST

DeSantis orders COVID-19 hot spot travelers quarantined on arrival in Florida

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The governor’s executive order took effect at 12:01 a.m. March 24.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

Airline travelers coming to Florida from coronavirus hot spots, including the New York tri-state area, will have to quarantine for 14 days.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSanits signed executive order 20-80 that directs all people departing from areas of “substantial community spread” and entering the state through airports to isolate.

The New York tri-state area comprises Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.

In an online address March 23, DeSantis said more than 190 direct flights from the New York City area arrive in Florida daily. According to Google Flights, on March 25 there are 12 nonstop flights scheduled from the New York City area to Jacksonville.

“I would reckon, given the outbreak there, every single flight has somebody on it who is positive for COVID-19,” he said. “So, as we’re working to stop it in the state of Florida, you’re consistently having people coming in from one of the top hot spots in the world.” 

The restrictions took effect at 12:01 a.m. March 24. 

The Florida Department of Health will screen all people sent to isolation under the latest executive order, but those under quarantine are responsible for all related costs including transportation, lodging, food, medical care and other expenses.

State and local law enforcement will be asked to help health department officials enforce the quarantines. 

The order does not apply to airline employees, military and emergency or health responders.

DeSantis said he spoke with President Donald Trump about restricting domestic flights from the federal level, but the White House has not revised those airline policies.

The executive order aims to stop an increase in individuals coming to Florida from states where shelter-in-place orders are being implemented. 

“Hopefully, that will be a deterrent for people. If you’re just simply trying to escape here to avoid restrictions that have been put in place in your own state, that is probably not a good idea,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis declined to issue a mandatory statewide lockdown or stay-at-home order in his address. Other states including California, Illinois and New York have issued similar mandates.

“You simply cannot lock down our society indefinitely with no end in sight,” he said. “When people say we may do this for seven to nine months, I can tell you that is not sustainable.”

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