Gov. DeSantis bans ‘vaccine passports’

ron deSantis
The passports "would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination."

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday prohibiting businesses and government from implementing “vaccine passport” policies in Florida.

The order restricts entities from requiring a patron or customer to provide documentation that proves they received a COVID-19 vaccine to gain access to or service from the business.

The order directs state agencies — such as the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Agency for Health Care Administration, which regulate bars and restaurants and nursing homes and hospitals, respectively — to “work to ensure businesses comply with this order.”

Those in violation, the order stipulates, will not be eligible for state grants or contracts.

“Requiring so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life — such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant, or going to a movie theater — would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination,” the order says.”It is necessary to protect the fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians and the free flow of commerce within the state.”

The executive order made good on a promise by DeSantis to use his broad executive authority to block businesses from requiring customers to show COVID-19 passports. Earlier this week, DeSantis said he thought vaccine passports would create “huge” privacy issues that could result in people handing over medical information to a “big corporation.”

“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 be able to participate in normal society,” DeSantis said. “If you want to go to the movie theater, should you have to show that? No. If you want to go to a game, no. If you want to go to a theme park, no. … I think it’s something that people have certain freedoms and individual liberties to make decisions for themselves.”

While the order takes effect immediately, he called on the Legislature to take action.

Legislative leaders, meanwhile, have expressed varying views on the issue.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls suggested support for the idea in March.

“That’s totally and wholly unreasonable based on what’s happening out there in the world,” Sprowls said. “I think that businesses have required a number of things that comply with CDC guidelines. I don’t believe that is something that the CDC is even calling for. I have not had a single business owner who has reached out to me and said we are in dire need of doing a COVID-19 vaccine passport.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson, alternatively, appeared less bullish on the issue, suggesting that business should have the ability to determine who comes and goes.

“On the surface I would say ‘yes’ because they are a private business,” Simpson said. “They can do what they want, but, clearly, they will bear the responsibility of that decision.”

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.


Content from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.

One comment

  • trump lost

    April 3, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Using executive privilege to force an individual’s behavior into following the governor’s personal opinion.

    And it’s the left that is acting Orwellian?

Comments are closed.


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