Florida Gov. Ron Desantis issued an executive order on Monday mandating a 14-day self-quarantine for travelers coming to the state from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
“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 states, according to CNN.
Desantis said that violating the quarantine order — which goes into effect on March 24 — would be a second-degree misdemeanor that could carry jail time, a fine or both.
“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 said during a press conference on Monday, explaining his justification for the order.
New York State has become a “hot spot” for the virus, accounting for nearly half of all U.S. cases. As of Tuesday morning, March 24, there are 20,875 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York alone. New Jersey jumped to second with 2,844 cases, and The New York Times reports that “dozens of new patients” are being identified in Connecticut each day.
Desantis said travelers from those states will be met by local or state law enforcement, as well as someone from the Department of Health, on board planes before being allowed to disembark.
“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,” the governor said.
As of Tuesday morning, Florida reports 1,222 confirmed cases of the virus and 16 deaths. The national death toll surged to 537, jumping more than 100 coronavirus-related deaths across the country in a single day for the first time since the outbreak, according to CNN.
Desantis has been facing pressure to enact stricter measures in Florida as videos circulated over the weekend and last week showing spring breakers flocking to the state’s beaches despite warnings to avoid large social gatherings.
The state leader decided he would not make a statewide mandate to close beaches, instead asking local municipalities to make that decision. Several have since shuttered their coasts.
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