by Pat Raia, [email protected]
Both US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were quick to react to reports that President Joe Biden is pondering domestic travel restrictions to Florida and other states in order to stem the spread of COVID-19 mutations.
The possible ban was reported by the Miami Herald newspaper on Feb. 9.
The following day, Rubio sent a letter to Biden calling such a ban “reckless” and “economically harmful” to the country and to Florida specifically.
“Instituting a travel ban, or any restriction of movement between the states, would be an outrageous, authoritarian move that has no basis in law or science. Instead, it would only serve to inflict severe and devastating economic pain on an already damaged economy,” Rubio wrote in the letter. “While we are all concerned that the pandemic continues to take a toll on our friends, family and communities, forbidding Americans from traveling across state lines will not force any strain of COVID-19 to cease. It would instead starve Florida’s businesses of much needed tourism dollars, keep family and friends apart, and set an unprecedented use of power on the American people.”
During a Feb. 11 press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis called a ban on travel to Florida “unconstitutional, unwise and unjust,” and politically motivated.
“We oppose it (the proposed ban) 100 percent - it (the travel ban) is not based in science, it is an attack on our state for purely political purposes,” DeSantis said. “We’ve had to stand by Floridians time and again and we will do so going forward, if anyone tries to harm Floridians or target us, we will respond very swiftly.”
Carol Dover, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the 10,000-member Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) said such a ban would obliterate any progress Florida has made toward economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
“Our state relies on visitors to keep people employed, fund state and local government, and remain state income tax free,” Dover said in a written statement. “To restrict individuals and their families from coming to Florida would absolutely kill the economic progress we have made in recent months.”
For now, the White House has not yet announced any concrete plans to impose restrictions on domestic travel.