With more and more Americans getting vaccinated against COVID-19, the idea of so-called “vaccine passports” to prove inoculation has been gaining traction on the left. But this week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) made clear that he won’t stand for it.
According to The Hill, the Republican governor of Florida signed an executive order Friday banning state officials from handing out “vaccine passports” that prove an individual has been vaccinated against the coronavirus. The order also reportedly bans individual businesses from requiring such documentation from their patrons.
“Today I issued an executive order prohibiting the use of so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports,” DeSantis wrote in a Friday tweet. “The [state] Legislature is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians and I look forward to signing them into law soon.”
Individual freedom and patient privacy
After noting that individual vaccination records would “reduce individual freedom” and “harm patient privacy,” DeSantis’ Friday order states that “[n]o Florida government entity, or its subdivisions, agents, or assigns, 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 vaccine record or similar health information.”
The order adds that Florida businesses “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.”
Compliance with the order is listed as a requirement to hold any “license, permit, or other state authorization,” as well as for receiving “grants or contracts funded through state revenue.”
“A top priority”
The governor had first promised to issue an executive order prohibiting the use of vaccine passes early last week. According to the Orlando Sentinel, DeSantis said the idea is “completely unacceptable.”
“You want to go to a movie theater, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a game, [or] a theme park? No. So we’re not supportive of that,” the Republican said.
DeSantis’ comments came after he signed a bill shielding companies from being hit with coronavirus-related liability claims. “We don’t want to be in a situation where people are scared of being sued, just for doing normal things,” the governor said of the measure, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “We worked very early on to look at to see ways that we could provide some certainty for both businesses, and health care providers.”
He went on: “This was obviously a top priority for many of us up here. And I think that the Legislature has been able to deliver today.”
Critics cry foul
Of course, critics have been vocal in their opposition to DeSantis’ new order on the vaccine passports, which GOP consultant Mac Stipanovich suggested stomps on business owners’ property rights. “How the hell is Ron DeSantis going to tell Disney that they can’t require vaccination passports should they want to do so?” Stipanovich asked, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
According to The Hill, DeSantis has urged state lawmakers to do their part to ban so-called vaccine passports indefinitely. It remains unclear, however, when and if the GOP-dominated state legislature will take up the measure.