Palm Beach County is investigating Gov. Ron DeSantis event because people didn’t wear masks

Palm Beach County is investigating a Hilton hotel for not forcing the crowd at a Governor Ron DeSantis campaign event to wear masks – even though masks aren’t mandatory across Florida

  • The campaign event was at the Airport Hilton at West Palm Beach on Friday 
  • A crowd of 100 to 150 had gathered to hear DeSantis speak 
  • Fifteen minutes before it began, a ‘compliance’ team from the county arrived
  • Now, the county says it is investigating the hotel 
  • Across the state of Florida, counties are not allowed to force masks on people
  • It is part of an executive order signed by Gov. DeSantis, a Republican 
  • Democratic counties like Miami and Palm Beach have adopted them anyway – even though they can’t legally enforce them  

Palm Beach County says it is investigating an airport Hilton hotel for not forcing the crowd at a campaign event for Gov. Ron DeSantis to wear masks – even though it’s illegal for them to be forced on individuals across Florida.  

The event was on Friday morning at the Hilton at the Airport Hilton in West Palm Beach. There was a crowd of between 100 and 150 and many were not wearing masks.  

Across the state of Florida, individuals cannot be fined or punished for refusing to wear masks as stated by an executive order signed by DeSantis.

Individual counties can enforce other COVID rules and can technically fine establishments but it raises a dilemma for local businesses in punitive parts of the state. 

The mostly-maskless crowd at a Governor Ron DeSantis campaign event on Friday Feb 18 at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Palm Beach

The county says there were between 100 and 150 people at the event, many without masks 

Another view of the event at the Hilton. Seats were spaced apart but the county says it is still investigating

Palm Beach County is one of the few Democratic counties in Florida. 

Typically, COVID rules have been far stricter in Democratic states in cities than in other parts of the country.  

It’s unclear what option the hotel had other than tell the guests to wear masks under the county law but respect the state law if they refused to wear one. 

No one at Palm Beach County’s offces responded to that inquiry on Monday afternoon. 

Hilton has not yet commented on the threat and the Governor’s office was of little help to them, saying only in a statement: ‘Governor DeSantis’ executive order suspending the collection of fines and penalties associated with COVID-19 enforced upon individuals remains in place.’

A statement released by the county earlier read: ‘Approximately 15 minutes before the Governor’s 10:00 am press event this morning at the Airport Hilton, we were informed that a large audience (approximately 100-150) was in attendance and numerous individuals were not wearing facial coverings or masks.

‘We immediately dispatched a CECT representative to the event. 

DeSantis issued an executive order banning local governments from imposing fines on people for not wearing masks 

The Hilton hotel near the airport in West Palm Beach, where the event was held on Friday 

‘We have spoken to Hilton management and will be following up with them and event organizers in accordance with our normal compliance procedures.’ 

County officials in Palm Beach also previously tried to stop former president Donald Trump from making it his permanent residence. 

Photos of the campaign event emerged last week and outraged some who accused DeSantis of ‘trying to kill us’. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Florida has had more relaxed rules on COVID-19 than almost every other state in the US. 

Cases there rose in the summer but they are now falling along with everywhere else, including states like California and New York. 

Over the course of the pandemic, California (left) has had a rate of about 8,499 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents while Florida has had about 8,306 (right) per 100,000. Currently, both are seing a rapid declines with fewer than 10,000 cases being reported every day. The dashed line represents the national seven-day average and the solid line represents California’s and Florida’s seven-day averages

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