By Ana Ceballos, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday said he is lifting coronavirus-related restrictions on youth activities, including summer camps and athletic events, because he trusts parents and local governments will make the right decisions for kids.
“We trust parents to use common sense. We trust our local officials. We trust the doctors that work with the folks day to day on a local basis in a way that is safe,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Jacksonville.
The governor said the state will allow local governments to figure out restrictions on youth activities, but DeSantis said he does not think imposing too many rules is wise.
“When you do that and you overcook it, you end up getting less compliance with it because people just throw up their hands and say that some of this is ridiculous,” the governor said.
Lifting restrictions on youth activities is the latest push by DeSantis to have Floridians return to some sense of normalcy after weeks of the state being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis is including youth activities in the early reopening process, in part because he said he is encouraged to see young people have not been as impacted by the virus.
“This virus has a disproportionate impact on the elderly. We in the state of Florida have observed zero fatalities under the age of 25 throughout the entire course of the pandemic,” the governor said Friday.
The Florida Department of Health on Friday reported that 4,832 of the state’s 49,451 COVID-19 cases involved people who are under age 25. The state also reported 178 hospitalizations of people in that age group due to COVID-19 complications.
The governor, a father of three young children, said he is not comfortable having his kids participate in youth activities.
“I wouldn’t want my kids involved in things right now,” he said. “But if for some reason I didn’t think it was safe and my wife didn’t, then obviously we wouldn’t (lift restrictions).”
Helen Aguirre Ferre, a spokeswoman for the governor, later clarified that DeSantis does not want his kids out and about because of their ages — the oldest is 3 years old — not because the activities would pose risks to their health.
“Most youth activities are for older children, T-Ball, for example begins at 4-5 years of age. However, other parents should be able to make that choice for themselves,” Ferre said in an email Friday.
Attorney General Ashley Moody told The News Service of Florida on Friday that she is “excited and happy” to let her 10-year-old son participate in youth activities this summer, so long as there are precautions and safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We will research them,” Moody said. “It is wonderful to see that if we can do it in a safe way, a responsible way, that our children will be able to be with their friends and be productive this summer.”
— News Service Assignment Manager Tom Urban contributed to this report.