Palm Beach County investigates Hilton hotel for not forcing crowd at Governor Ron DeSantis campaign event to wear masks – even though masks aren’t mandatory in 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 in an executive order signed by DeSantis.
Individual counties can enforce other COVID rules and can technically fine establishments – as opposed to individuals – but it raises a dilemma for local businesses in parts of the state that have tried to enforce certain virus-related rules.
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 and cities than in other parts of the country.
It’s unclear what option the hotel had other than to 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 offices 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 have previously tried to stop former president Donald Trump from making it his permanent residence. The former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort is in Palm Beach.
Photos of Friday’s 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, where distancing and other virus-related rules have been more strict.
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