Gov. DeSantis issued a wide-ranging order on Friday banning all businesses and government entities in the state from requiring a “vaccination pas
Gov. DeSantis issued a wide-ranging order on Friday banning all businesses and government entities in the state from requiring a “vaccination passport,” or documented proof of vaccination for the coronavirus.
The order comes as some events and businesses had already started to implement some form of proof of vaccination, including a festival and private college in South Florida festival and the Miami Heat.
It was also unclear how such an order would work with nationwide or international businesses such as theme parks, cruise lines and airlines.
Even while Gov. Ron DeSantis is vowing to ban so-called vaccine passports in Florida, many businesses and event venues are moving forward with plans to use vaccine proof to protect patrons. In fact, New York is launching a cellphone app for the public to provide digital proof of a COVID-19 shot at entertainment venues.
The order, which DeSantis had previewed in an announcement earlier this week, states that “No Florida government entity … 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.”
All businesses in Florida, he wrote, “are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business.”
As a method of enforcement, businesses that don’t comply with the order would not be eligible for state grants or state-funded contracts.
DeSantis did add that the order doesn’t prevent businesses from continuing the COVID-19 screening protocols in place for the past year, including temperature checks.
“Individual COVID-19 vaccination records are private health information which should not be shared by mandate,” DeSantis wrote. “… so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports reduce individual freedom and will harm patient privacy; and … would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination.”
But already, some proof of vaccination is being required in parts of the state.
The South Beach Food and Wine Festival, set for late May, is asking ticket holders to attest they either have been vaccinated or have received a negative COVID-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours before the event.
Nova Southeastern University, a private university in South Florida, will require students and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 when they return to campus in the fall.
The major theme parks don’t currently require proof of vaccination to enter, and Disney, Universal and SeaWorld did not respond to questions about DeSantis’s order.
It was also unclear what the cruise industry would do. DeSantis has been strongly critical of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s cruise ship shutdown.
Senate President Wilton Simpson said Thursday that he doesn’t think passports should be required. But Simpson didn’t make any promises that the Senate would pass a ban.
“So it’s something that we will certainly attempt to address if there is an appropriate bill to do that with,” Simpson, R-Trilby, told reporters.
Last week, Simpson told reporters that private businesses should be able to operate as they see fit.
“On the surface, I would say ‘yes’ because they are a private business.” Simpson said when asked if businesses should be able to require customers to have passports. “They can do what they want. But, clearly, they will bear the responsibility of that decision.”
Political Pulse Newsletter
Political news from Central Florida and across the state.
DeSantis’ executive order came after news reports that the Biden administration is considering pushing federal agencies and companies to develop a program that would allow people to show they have been vaccinated. Republican leaders in other parts of the country also have criticized passport requirements.
The European Union, meanwhile, has announced that it plans to issue a “Digital Green Certificate” that will allow European Union citizens to freely travel across member nations. The certificates will prove that people have been vaccinated against COVID-19, have already recovered from the virus or have tested negative. The goal is for the Digital Green certificates to be in play by summer.
In Israel, people who are vaccinated or who already have been infected by COVID-19 can get a “green pass” from the Health Ministry. The app allows them access to gyms, theaters and clubs.
Nearly 6 million people in Florida had received at least one dose of vaccine as of Wednesday, with about 3.4 million fully vaccinated, state Department of Health numbers show.
The News Service of Florida, the Associated Press, Orlando Sentinel staff writer Gabrielle Russon and Sun Sentinel staff writer Skyler Swisher contributed to this report.