Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill to protect religious institutions from emergency lockdowns; “I don’t think the government has the authority to close a church,” DeSantis says.
DeSantis on Friday signed SB 254, which states that an emergency order may not directly or indirectly prohibit religious services or activities unless the government requires all entities, such as businesses and government offices, to cease activities.
The law doesn’t force churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship to remain open during future crises. However, the institutions will be able to close if they choose to.
The law will take effect July 1.
Republican State Sen. Jason Brodeur and GOP state Rep. Nick DiCeglie sponsored the legislation, which passed the Florida Legislature with bipartisan support.
The state Senate passed the measure 31-3 in January, and the House followed with an 88-29 vote in March, when the majority of Democrats opposed the proposal.