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Florida hospitality industry decries potential federal travel ban

Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 4:37 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPS NEWS/WCJB) - The federal government is reportedly considering imposing travel restrictions on states seeing high rates of COVID-19 variants, including Florida.

The rumors have faced staunch condemnation from the Governor and other elected officials in Florida and the state’s hospitality industry fears limiting inter-state travel would devastate the economic gains made over the past six months.

The Miami Herald first quoted White House officials Wednesday suggesting the possibility of imposing interstate-travel restrictions on states like Florida to slow the spread of the more contagious UK COVID variant.

Governor Ron DeSantis was quick to denounce the idea.

“It would not be based in science. It would purely be a political attack against the people of Florida,” said DeSantis Thursday morning.

Related story: DeSantis: Publix to open additional COVID-19 vaccine appointments on Mondays

Following DeSantis’ remarks White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki downplayed the suggestion that travel restrictions were under consideration.

“No decisions have been made around additional public health measures that would delay, or would change I should say, domestic travel considerations,” said Psaki.

But her statement hasn’t done much to douse the fears of Florida’s hospitality industry, which likens inter-state travel restrictions to a second lockdown of the state’s economy.

“The last thing we need now is another shut down,” said Carol Dover, President of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

The tourism industry was undoubtably the sector hit hardest by the pandemic.

Rumors of a travel ban put a damper on last month’s optimism for a quicker than expected recovery.

Dover said some hotels are reporting out of state travelers make up 60 percent of their current business.

“60 percent. I mean we’re talking about an industry that is on life support right now. So the last thing we need to do is do anything that would cause their numbers to go backwards. We’re trying to build this industry back,” said Dover.

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Both the Governor and The Restaurant and Lodging Association have called into question the constitutionality of a federally mandated inter-state travel ban.

If enacted, a lengthy legal battle would likely ensue, with Florida leading the charge.

The suggestion of Florida travel restrictions has also been condemned by both of Florida’s Republican US Senators.

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