Florida will soon begin fining businesses, schools that ask for proof of COVID shot: Report

“Promises made, promises kept.”

That was the sentiment expressed by a spokesperson for Florida’s Ron DeSantis on Wednesday, just weeks before a law signed earlier this year by the Republican governor barring businesses, schools, and government agencies from requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination for COVID-19 was set to go into effect.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the law, which levies a $5,000 fine against entities that ask customers and visitors to show they’ve been vaccinated for the coronavirus, will officially take effect Sept. 16.

Notably, the Sentinel reports, the law does not prevent business owners from requiring their employees to get the shot.

Voluntary vaccinations

The Sentinel also reported that cruise lines will be exempt from the fines “because of a federal court order that at least temporarily blocked enforcement of the law for that industry.”

The governor remains embroiled in an appeal effort, the Sentinel said.

“We believe the ruling will be overturned upon appeal, and we are confident in the legal basis for Florida’s vaccine passport ban,” a spokesperson for DeSantis told the Sentinel last month.

As Tampa Bay’s Fox 13 reported, the law establishing fines makes permanent an executive order signed earlier in the summer by DeSantis. At a signing event for the law, the governor encouraged Floridians to get vaccinated for the coronavirus, but stressed that they should do so voluntarily.

“My message is that the vaccines protect you. Get vaccinated, and then live your life as if you are protected,” DeSantis remarked, according to Fox 13. “You don’t have to chafe under restrictions [ad] infinitum.”

Dems blast DeSantis

But the ban on “vaccine passports” is facing intense criticism from Florida Democrats, including state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is expected to launch a gubernatorial challenge in next year’s election.

“Governor DeSantis is retaliating against Floridians who are trying to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19,” Tampa’s ABC News affiliate quoted her as saying.

“This not only goes against common sense — it’s also an insult to the free market principles that he claims to champion,” Fried added. “He’s made it abundantly clear that he’s more interested in retaliating against Floridians who are trying to do the right thing than he is in stopping the spread of COVID or supporting local businesses.”

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