Gainesville City Commission tests Gov. DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban
Ric Scott grounds the idea of vaccine passports to fly. Image via Reuters.

vaccine passport
The city said their COVID-19 policy at city commission meetings is within their jurisdiction.

The City of Gainesville has found a way to sidestep Gov. Ron DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban, but the Governor said the workaround would violate an upcoming law.

Thursday at a Gainesville city commission meeting, attendees were told if they did not wear a mask at the meeting, they must show proof of vaccination. The City provided masks to attendees.

Gov. DeSantis, in a written statement, said, “The City of Gainesville should immediately cease to impose such discriminative policies upon individuals.”

DeSantis said the policy violates the “spirit” of an emergency order signed April 2 that states 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.”

DeSantis’ statement took the issue a step further when it said Gainesville’s policy would violate a new law, Senate Bill 2006, signed by the Governor last month and effective July 1. That law prohibits “governmental entities from requiring persons to provide documentation certifying vaccination against or recovery from COVID-19.” A violation, under that upcoming law, would come with a fine of up to $5,000 per person for a government, business, or institution that asks for vaccine documentation.

But a statement from Gainesville’s public information officer, Rossana Passaniti, released Thursday said the policy does not require meeting attendees, which they refer to as neighbors, to show proof of vaccination. Passaniti said it’s merely an option if meeting attendees don’t want to wear a mask.

“If a neighbor wishes to voluntarily show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, they may enter without a mask. Masks can be provided for neighbors,” Passaniti said in a written statement.

Senate Bill 2006 does allow entities to enact their own rules about screening protocols as long as those protocols are “consistent with authoritative or controlling government-issued guidance to protect public health.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask indoors.

Passaniti maintained the city is following the law.

“The City is within its jurisdiction to require masks,” Passaniti said, “as well as the taking of temperatures for neighbors wishing to enter its buildings, including the City Commission chambers.”

When asked again about the policy after Gov. DeSantis released his statement, Passaniti said the city’s position has not changed.

DeSantis also said in his statement that the city’s policy “inhibits public participation in government proceedings.” Passaniti countered that all proceedings are available to watch online.

Here is the Governor’s statement in its entirety:

“Gainesville’s vaccine requirements violate the spirit of the Governor’s Emergency Order 21-81, which prohibits vaccine passports and protects the fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians. The policy also inhibits public participation in government proceedings that should be open and accessible to the public. Further, the policy violates Florida’s recently enacted law, SB 2006, effective July 1. The City of Gainesville should immediately cease to impose such discriminative policies upon individuals.”

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected].


  • Ron Ogden

    May 21, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    Political trap play from lefty land. What, is every Demi-dominated village council in the state now going to post its own list of hoops you have to jump through just to enhance its anti-DeSantisi rep? The governor acted as he did in order to obviate this kind of high school senate-style rule making. Let’s stop indulging it with gee-whiz journalism.

    • Bill

      May 21, 2021 at 3:15 pm

      What about my right to not be infected by some looney you can’t make me wear a mask people. I don’t see anything wrong with proof of vacine at a bussiness or anywhere.

      • Kat Martin

        May 22, 2021 at 6:42 pm

        Violation of HIPPA laws.

        • William Privett

          May 22, 2021 at 7:38 pm

          So i’ll be violating my own rights to show i have taken the shot.

  • John

    May 21, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    Gainesville is commieville.

    • William Privett

      May 21, 2021 at 11:06 pm

      We were just voted one of the top three places to live in Florida so we must be doing it right.

  • John

    May 21, 2021 at 10:20 pm

    So bill, tell me what scientific journal or paper says a mask will stop a virus? You mask nazi’s should get some reading done and move on. We are done with masks and covid. It is now time to begin investigating those who have released this on our country and bring justice upon them.

    • William Privett

      May 23, 2021 at 4:11 am

      No one said they would stop it but it sure to better the odds of not getting it.

  • Fred

    May 21, 2021 at 11:03 pm

    Good for Gainesville!

  • Peter

    May 22, 2021 at 10:48 am

    Thanks to the city of Gainesville for standing up to this madness, and sending the message, get vaccinated, or wear a mask. The old canard that masks aren’t effective flies in the face of facts. Masks stop the spread of DROPLETS containing the VIRUS from reaching others. This fact is self-evident and not refutable. Those who argue otherwise sound like Groucho Marx, “who are you going to believe, me or your own lying eyes?”

Comments are closed.


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