Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will pardon anybody in Florida convicted of breaking masking or social distancing rules

By Tom Porter

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that he will pardon anyone in the state prosecuted for violating mask or social-distancing COVID-19 rules.

In an appearance on Fox News Wednesday, the Republican said that the rules were a form of government overreach.

He addressed the case of Florida gym owners Mike and Jillian Carnevale, who were arrested for violating mask rules, and were interviewed on the network just before DeSantis. 

"I'm going to sign a reprieve under my constitutional authority," DeSantis told host Laura Ingraham.

"So that will delay the case for 60 days against both of them, and then when our clemency board meets in the coming weeks, we'll issue pardons not only for Mike and Jillian, but for any Floridian that may have outstanding infractions for things like masks and social distancing."

"I think they've been treated poorly," he added. "Fortunately, they got a governor that cares."

On Thursday DeSantis issued an executive order granting a statewide reprieve for businesses and individuals, shielding them from prosecution over COVID-19 rules for 60 days.

DeSantis, a GOP rising star who is considered a potential presidential candidate for 2024, suspended all of Florida's COVID-19 restrictions, arguing that the effectiveness of vaccines meant they were no longer necessary.

His opposition to rules to slow the spread of COVID-19 has been at the heart of his political brand. 

He did not issue a statewide mask mandate during the height of the pandemic, though several counties in the state issued their own mandates. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday revised its COVID-19 rules, advising that those who have been vaccinated no longer need to wear masks indoors or observe social distancing.