"This action is necessary so that we can recover, have a good transition to normal operations, and also just a recognition that a lot of this stuff was way, way overboard," DeSantis said.
Democratic candidate for governor Nikki Fried was the only member on the board to oppose the pardons, according to local news outlet Fox 13.
"I voted today to uphold our laws, while our so-called pro-law enforcement governor is actively encouraging people to break the law with politically motivated stunts like this," Fried said in a statement following a Wednesday clemency board meeting.
Fox News could not immediately reach the governor’s office to confirm the number of pardons expected to be issued.
But two Florida business owners who were arrested multiple times for not enforcing mask mandates celebrated the announcement Wednesday.
Gym owners Mike and Jillian Carnevale were granted a pardon by the governor in May but appeared at the clemency board meeting to thank DeSantis.
"I’m here today to say health and wellness has always been one of our foundational responsibilities to ourselves. It has never been the role of government to be legally and lawfully enforcing and dictating health and wellness," Mike Carnevale, who was reportedly arrested three times last summer, said. "So today is something I am really grateful for."
DeSantis called the arrests an overreach and criticized local mandates that required masks even while working out – noting that the World Health Organization advised against it.
The governor, who resisted coronavirus mandates throughout the pandemic, said the Carnevale’s "exercised common sense" in their mask judgment.
"Just understand, if you’re in good shape, you’re going to handle COVID 99.99 percent of the time. And so they are telling you to close people’s gyms, have them eat take-out and watch Netflix all day. That’s not good for health," DeSantis said. "So one of the best things you can do for COVID is to be in good health."