Theme park mecca lets pandemic emergency order expire

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The mayor of the Florida county that is home to the nation’s biggest theme park resorts is lifting a pandemic-related state of emergency order.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he was letting the order expire Wednesday afternoon.

The decision to let the order expire was made because Orange County's positivity rate has been below 5% for 17 consecutive days and the 14-day average rate was 3.5%, the mayor said. Demings said he would not hesitate to reinstate the emergency order if Orange County’s numbers rise.

Under the state of emergency, county employees were required to be vaccinated with at least one shot by the end of August, or face discipline. Unvaccinated workers also were required to be tested weekly for COVID-19, but they will no longer have to do that.

Orange County employees still will be required to wear masks indoors until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moves the county's risk threat from substantial to moderate. But individual private employers will be able to decide what safety precautions they want to take, Demings said.

“That is a business decision they are going to have to make,” Demings said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration has threatened municipalities and businesses with fines for mandating vaccines.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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