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Gov. Ron DeSantis granted pardons to Florida residents who were still facing fines and other penalties for violating pandemic orders issued by local governments.
"This action is necessary so that we can recover, have a good transition to normal operations, and also just a recognition that a lot of this stuff was way, way overboard," DeSantis said while announcing the pardons Wednesday.
Former gym owners Mike and Jillian Carnevale also attended the clemency board meeting where the pardons were issued. They were arrested multiple times and had their business shut down over their refusal to make their members wear masks while working out.
"I’m here today to say health and wellness has always been one of our foundational responsibilities to ourselves. It has never been the role of government to be legally and lawfully enforcing and dictating health and wellness," Mike Carnevale said. "So, today is something I am really grateful for."
“You know, we’re business owners, not criminals, so it feels really good to know I can move forward,” said Jillian Carnevale.
Mike Carnevale was reportedly arrested three times for his refusal to follow his local government's mask mandate, eventually resulting in the seizure of their business. But DeSantis said the couple did not deserve to be treated like criminals.
“I just want to say, we’ve got to stop that. Let’s focus on the real criminals,” said DeSantis.
The governor said that the Carnevales used “common sense” when deciding against mandating masks in their gym.
"Just understand, if you’re in good shape, you’re going to handle COVID 99.99% of the time. And so, they are telling you to close people’s gyms, have them eat takeout, and watch Netflix all day. That’s not good for health," DeSantis said. "So, one of the best things you can do for COVID is to be in good health."
But the decision to issue pardons was not universally praised by members of the clemency board, with Democratic candidate for governor Nikki Fried saying the decision was a “politically motivated stunt” by the governor.
"I voted today to uphold our laws, while our so-called pro-law enforcement governor is actively encouraging people to break the law with politically motivated stunts like this," Fried said in a statement following the decision.
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Original Author: Michael Lee