This story was updated at 7:20 p.m. with more information

A sizeable crowd gathered at the Todd Herendeen Theatre in Panama City Beach to watch Governor Ron DeSantis speak at his first trip to Bay County since his reelection.

The topic of discussion was permanent freedom from all COVID-19 mandates.

“We also believe that being able to live your life, being able to breathe the fresh air is something that should basically be a civil right,” DeSantis said. “You should not have to have any of these mask requirements imposed on you.”

Covid mandate reforms were put in place by the state legislature in 2021 and were written to last two years. They are set to expire on July 1.

DeSantis said he is working to permanently prohibit vaccine and mask requirements in the upcoming legislative session.

“It’s insane, it’s irrational and so no discrimination on this vax status., no requirements of masking in lieu of vax or for any other reason and those are really, really important,” DeSantis said. “You know, sometimes you just have to say enough is enough and you think it’d be enough but you still see it all over this country.”

DeSantis is also addressing medical freedom of speech, to the delight of attendees, who waved signs saying “Science not Censorship” and “Free Speech Free State.”

“In Florida, we’re going to make sure that those physicians are free to speak and free to offer their opinions, regardless of whatever may be in vogue politically or whatever some of the higher-ups think is appropriate,” DeSantis said.

The state legislature returns on March 7.


Original version below:

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference in Panama City Beach Tuesday.

DeSantis was joined by Rep. Neal Dunn, (R-Panama City), Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo.

You can watch the full event here: