Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an executive order Friday outlawing vaccine passports in the state, which seeks to prohibit businesses from requiring customers to show proof of a Covid vaccination in order to enter, the latest in an emerging Republican crusade against any vaccine mandates.
The order—which goes into effect immediately—would penalize businesses requiring proof of vaccination by denying them from any state grants or contracts.
Some businesses in Florida had already announced vaccination requirements, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, like Nova Southeastern University, a private university which is requiring students and faculty to have vaccinations by the fall semester.
DeSantis’ order was largely expected, as he’s railed against vaccine passports as a “completely unacceptable” form of government intrusion.
State governmental bodies are also prohibited from requiring proof of vaccination.
Florida appears to be the first state to ban vaccine passports, though officials in others—like South Dakota and Missouri—have also expressed support for a ban.
“It is 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 be able to participate in society,” DeSantis has said.
Governments and businesses around the country are continuing to weigh what the best approach will be to reopen while the U.S. continues its massive vaccination push that many hope will end the pandemic and the need for restrictions soon. Democrats have been the ones largely promoting the idea of vaccine passports, with New York launching a voluntary virtual pass last week. But many Republican officials—including some in Congress—are steadfastly against the idea, even though they might personally approve of vaccinations. But polling shows most of the vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. is coming from Republicans, and those who voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020.
More than 100 million. That’s how many Americans have now gotten at least one shot of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the CDC. That accounts for almost 40% of the U.S. adult population.
DeSantis throughout the pandemic has charted his own course for Florida’s Covid response, often ignoring public health guidance and coming under intense criticism for doing so. On reopening bars and restaurants, for example, while other big, Republican-controlled states like Texas have just recently lifted all restrictions, DeSantis started allowing bars and restaurants to operate at full capacity in September.