Disney rolls back employee COVID-19 vaccine mandate
Image via AP.

By pausing the vaccine order, Disney avoids hefty fines and a possible showdown.

Disney has paused its employee COVID-19 vaccine mandate after Gov. Ron DeSantis outlawed jabs as a condition of employment in Florida.

The roll back comes after DeSantis signed a slew of bills Friday gutting the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on employers with more than 100 workers.

The mandate — among others orders — required companies to verify vaccination status, or mandate regular testing and PPE as a condition of employment.

DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, declared victory in a Saturday statement. The Republican Governor reconvened lawmakers last week to address the mandate.

“As we would expect, Disney has amended its vaccination policy to comply with Florida law,” she said. “We believe that all companies in Florida will likewise follow the law signed by Gov. DeSantis this week. Nobody should lose his or her job over COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and we thank legislative leaders for their part in delivering on the promise to keep Florida Free.”

By lifting the vaccine order, Disney avoids hefty fines and a possible showdown with DeSantis and Republican leaders. Under one measure, large companies found in violation of state law could face fines upward of $50,000.

Disney touted the 90% vaccination rate of its Florida-based employees in a memo. The same memo said unvaccinated employees are required to follow company health protocol, including face covers and physical distance.

“We remain confident in the approach we have taken with our mandatory vaccine policy for Florida-based Cast Members and employees, with more than 90% of our active Florida-based Cast Members and employees having verified that they are fully vaccinated, and we consider this to be very successful,” Disney said in a memo obtained by FOX 35.

“Due to the passage this week of a new Florida law on employer vaccine mandates, and the federal OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard mandating the vaccine being stayed, we must pause the enforcement of our policy for Florida-based Cast Members and employees,” the memo added.

Ordered by DeSantis, the Special Session — dubbed “Keep Florida Free” — marked the first-term Governor’s staunchest rebuke of President Joe Biden and the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Republicans claimed the measures were needed to protect individual liberties and the livelihoods of unvaccinated Floridians. Democrats, meanwhile, chalk up the effort as little more than political theater.

In November, DeSantis joined a handful of Republican-led states filing lawsuits to halt the controversial vaccine mandate.

He is also targeting a separate vaccine mandate against health care providers who receive federal aid.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at [email protected] or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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