Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis stated yesterday that he plans to issue an executive order to prevent jurisdictional governments and businesses from requiring so-called “vaccine passports”—proof that an individual has been inoculated against COVID-19—from customers in their communities.
He announced his intention during a March 29 ceremony held at the State Capitol, in which he signed into law a legislature-approved bill that will prevent COVID-related lawsuits against Florida businesses, as long as they’ve made good-faith efforts to adhere to official guidelines aimed at stopping the virus’ spread.
His remarks regarding vaccine passports happened to come on a day when vaccines became available to more Floridians, with the age for eligibility for receiving the immunizations having just been lowered to 40. The minimum age requirement will be lowered to 18 years old on April 5, DeSantis said last week.
But, regardless of when the vaccine’s supply catches up with demand, DeSantis remains firmly against the idea of vaccine passports and has previously stated that he would take steps to forbid businesses from refusing to serve people without proof of their vaccination status.
According to the Associated Press, DeSantis said: “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 participate in normal society.”
During the press conference, and in the presence of House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson, DeSantis reportedly called upon the state’s Republican-led Legislature to draw up a measure on this matter for him to sign into law, but he wasn’t forthcoming with specifics.
DeSantis has already staunchly rejected mask mandates and used his executive powers to prevent local governments (at the county, municipal or township level) from mandating or enforcing such measures. His priority has been to reopen Florida’s economy rather than focus on epidemiology, and the Sunshine State currently welcomes tourists without restrictions.
Health statistics provided by the Florida Department of Health showed that, as of yesterday, 5.67 million Florida residents have received at least one dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use.
Florida’s governor is pointedly pushing back against President Joe Biden’s support for the creation of a standardized set of COVID-19 vaccination credentials that will be recognized on a federal level. However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday that vaccination won’t be mandated and that the development of vaccine passports is being left to the private sector.
“Our role is to help ensure that any solutions in this area should be simple, free, open-source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people’s privacy,” said White House Coronavirus Coordinator Jeff Zients in a briefing on March 12.