Legislators in Florida passed a bill
instituting a total ban on vaccine passports in the Sunshine State. On April 29, the Florida Legislature
passed Senate Bill (SB) 2006 – which prevents both government agencies and private businesses from requiring people to show proof of vaccination
before availing of a product or service. The bill bolsters an executive order signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis early that month prohibiting the use of vaccine passports.
According to the bill
, "any business operating in this state may not require patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to, entry upon or service from the business operations in this state." Businesses who flout the state government's vaccine passport ban can face fines of up to $5,000 per violation.
The bill also extended to government offices and educational institutions. It said that these two "may not require persons to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery" as a pre-requisite for service. However, the bill provided caveats for both entities: They are still permitted to institute "screening protocols in accordance with state or federal law to protect public health."
Based on its text, SB 2006 appears to take DeSantis's vaccine passport ban a step further. ClickOrlando.com reported
that the governor signed an executive order on April 2 banning the use of such passports in the state. "Requiring so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life … would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination, the order said." It continued that vaccines are not required in Florida and a person's decision to get vaccinated is private health information.
The Republican governor has been vocal about his opposition to vaccine passports. He slammed such documents as unnecessary during a March 30 press conference. "It's completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of [vaccination] to just simply be able to participate in normal society," he said. (Related: South Koreans without vaccine passports will not be able to go to work and enter stores
The joint effort by Florida's legislative and executive branches gives more legal basis for banning vaccine passports
With the Florida Legislature
passing SB 2006, it only needs DeSantis's signature to become a law. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini announced the bill's passing
in a tweet. His Apr. 29 post said: "Just voted to ban vaccine passports in Florida. [The] bill passed 76-40."
The GOP state lawmaker previously remarked that DeSantis's April 2 executive order ought to be passed into law. "This [executive] order is immediate, but must be passed into law. As a state [representative], I'll be fighting to make sure this law passes [as soon as possible]," Sabatini earlier tweeted
Sabatini told National File
that he and his allies in the Florida Legislature are trying to "limit the role of local governments to interfere with people's personal lives and liberty, including medical freedom." He added that they were "pushing back" against "businesses in [the] state [and] woke corporations." These entities aim to "mandate vaccines and control the lives of every consumer," Sabatini argued. (Related: Former Clinton adviser warns that vaccine passports could lead to "end of human liberty."
The state lawmaker continued: "It's the 'woke' corporations [such as the] airlines [and] the cruise industry. They're the ones who would have tried to require a vaccine passport." He also exhorted other GOP states to use Florida's new law as a model. "Pass the same exact bill. Take the bill and pass it in every state in the country," Sabatini commented.
But according to Lawrence Gostin, director of Georgetown University
's O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, the Florida governor's executive order was unlikely to have an impact. However, he remarked that laws passed by state legislatures – such as SB 2006 – may be more effective in curtailing moves by local governments to mandate vaccine passports.
He told NBC News
via an email: "Governors [such as DeSantis] have no power to prohibit cities or counties from issuing passports or banning the private sector. But if the [Florida Legislature
] or other state legislature passed a law, it could pre-empt local governments from issuing passports."
A number of GOP states – such as Texas, Arizona and South Dakota – have followed the footsteps of Florida by issuing executive orders that ban vaccine passports. However, it remains to be seen if their respective legislatures will pass laws similar to what the Sunshine State did.
to read more news about the fight against COVID-19 vaccine passports.