In a strange reversal of the norm, Florida officials are using some of the state’s weigh stations as a checkpoint for motorists only to try to slow the spread of COVID-19/Coronavirus from other states.
On March 28, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to try to contain the spread of Coronavirus in part by requiring that motorists entering the state to enter weigh stations on I-10 and I-95 for health screenings.
From a news release from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT):
To assist with the implementation and enforcement of the Executive Order, Florida Highway Patrol will staff the checkpoint at I-10 at the Alabama/Florida line, 24 hours a day with approximately 16 troopers in 12-hour shifts.
FDOT’s top priority is safety; therefore, motorists who are approaching a checkpoint should be prepared to reduce their speed. Motorists should expect to be directed by law enforcement to enter the weigh station. Depending upon the motorist’s origin, they will be directed to either proceed back to the Interstate or to pull aside for further screening.
Commercial motor vehicles should proceed in the left lane and may bypass the checkpoint to ensure timely delivery of products across the state.
Motorists who have been in areas with substantial outbreaks of Coronavirus including Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will be required to quarantine for 14 days before they are allowed into Florida. Those who violate the quarantine order could face up to 60 days in jail. The order doesn’t apply to those working in a military, emergency, health or infrastructure capacity, or persons involved in any commercial activity.
On Sunday afternoon, another COVID-19 checkpoint located on I-95 at the Florida/Georgia border was shut down for hours due to a miles-long traffic backup. Video shared on Facebook shows several motorists driving in the grass to bypass the checkpoint.
FDOT remarked, “The Florida Department of Transportation fully supports the trucking industry and appreciates the critical services they provide across the state while protecting Floridian’s safety during COVID-19. No commerce is impeded and commercial vehicles may bypass the checkpoint to ensure timely delivery of products across the state.”