Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pardoned Mike Carnevale, the gym owner who was jailed for violating COVID-19 lockdown emergency orders for refusing to enforce mask mandates at his business.
Carnevale had been issued warnings and citations for not enforcing the mask mandate in Broward County, and was arrested a total of 3 times for not enforcing masks at his gym. His wife was also arrested. Carnevale, if convicted, would be facing up to 6 months in jail. Governor DeSantis called the arrest a “total overreach” by the government, adding that “it’s not even right to be wearing masks when you’re exercising.”
“It’s not healthy for people to be doing that in the first place, so it was a bad restriction, but these things with health should be advisory, they should not be punitive,” said DeSantis, who would go on to pardon all Florida citizens fined for violating mask and social distancing mandates in the state. The gym owner released a video detailing his situation, thanking the Florida Governor for coming to his aide and criticizing the government’s “political attacks” against him for resisting the emergency orders.
“Health and wellness is a personal responsibility. It’s not something to be lawfully and legally enforced by government. I’ve said that all along, people don’t belong in jail – business owners don’t belong in jail over health and wellness,” said Carnevale. “I wasn’t a political person going into this but I felt like it was political persecution that was being perpetuated onto me and my family, and my community as well, we had 2000 members there at that gym.”
“I think I probably would have done the same thing all over again. It’s so important, that people have to stand up for the rights of small business owners and health and wellness all over the globe,” Carnevale continued. “The COVID-19 mandate that I broke, or didn’t follow, was one that was very anti-science of them to enforce to begin with. It was facial coverings during strenuous fitness activities.”
“I think using logic, reason, and fairness, that’s something that’s very against public health. It’s very anti-science. The World Health Organization, you know, they advised against it. The CDC initially did, only to pivot after being contacted by elected officials in Broward County,” said Carnevale.
“Business owners don’t belong in jail. Everyone has a right to earn a living. I’ve been pretty adamant about that and it’s great affirmation today to receive clemency from Ron DeSantis today who agrees.” As a result of the legal trouble, Carnevale lost his business, but hopes to open up a new gym in the near future.