Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has deemed religious services in churches, synagogues and other houses of worship, to be “essential” and therefore exempt from the stay-at-home executive order meant to stem the spread of coronavirus.
DeSantis announced a new sweeping executive order on Wednesday calling for a statewide 30-day stay-at-home order to go into effect this Friday, limiting movement only to essential businesses and essential activities. The order also lists essential activities that are permitted during the 30-day period, including things like exercising, taking care of pets, and assisting a loved ones.
The order’s exemption for religious services comes just days after pastor Rodney Howard-Brown was arrested and charged for holding regular services at his church in Tampa Bay, Florida, despite a “safer at home” order in effect in Hillsborough County.
Aside from repeatedly downplaying the virus’ threat, Howard-Brown has claimed to have special machines in place that can “kill” the virus.
“We brought in 13 machines that basically kill every virus in the place,” Howard-Browne said in a video posted to his YouTube channel. “If they sneeze it shoots it down like at 100 miles per hour and it will neutralize it in a split second.”