TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Keeping his promise to prohibit so-called "vaccine passports," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday that would ban local governments and state businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for services.
What You Need To Know
- Florida formally bans "vaccine passports" for local governments and businesses
- Gov. Ron DeSantis had previously said he would issue executive order on issue
- Order still allows businesses to have COVID-19 rules such as mask-wearing
- RELATED: Florida Governor DeSantis to Forbid 'Vaccine Passports'
"No Florida government entity, or its subdivisions, agents, or assigns, shall be permitted to issue vaccine passports, vaccine passes, or other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying an individual's COVID-19 vaccination status to a third party, or otherwise publish or share any individual's COVID-19 vaccination record or similar health information," the order states.
The move was not unexpected. DeSantis had previously said he opposed requiring proof of vaccination.
“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society,” the governor had said.
The ban on businesses requiring proof of vaccination could become a focal point for debate; the order could be argued as an overreach of government, not allowing businesses to operate as they deem is appropriate.
Mark Ferguson, owner of Ferg's Sports Bar in St. Petersburg said he likes what the governor is doing.
“I think he’s doing exactly the right thing to do," Ferguson said. "We can’t enforce all the rules, and we can’t go ovberboard here.”
The governor's executive order outlines penalties for businesses that don't comply by making them ineligible for grants or contracts funded through state revenue.
"Any provision of Florida Statutes is hereby suspended solely to the extent it restricts a Florida agency from requiring compliance with this order as a condition for a license, permit, or other state authorization necessary for conducting business in Florida," the order states. Florida's "vaccine passport" ban is effective immediately.
The governor's order does not restrict businesses from placing other mandates in effect for public health, including social distancing and mask-wearing.
While the Biden administration considers rules and implementation of a COVID-19 vaccination "passport," other nations are already rolling out similar programs. Israel, Estonia, and Iceland are among those requiring visitors and locals to show a COVID-19 passport to avoid quarantine restrictions or to visit various events or businesses.
U.S. airlines are among those lobbying the Biden administration to develop guidance. It's unclear how DeSantis's order would impact requirements such as airlines, which are overseen and regulated by the federal government.
“Personal health information is expressly referenced in the governor’s executive order, which is a very important thing," said Dr. Jay Wolfson, an attorney and University of South Florida Public Health Professor. "While the law can allow people to get that information, for example, school systems can get your personal health information to make sure that your children are vaccinated.
“Your personal health information with respect to having the vaccine is not covered by any law. So, the governor’s saying private interests cannot discriminate against you by asking you for that information.”