Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Bans COVID-19 Passports

Arent Fox
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Arent Fox

With COVID-19 vaccinations increasing, interest has grown in developing COVID-19 passports, digitized verification that the bearer has been fully inoculated against the virus. Last week, however, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order banning them in his state.
 

Its rationale? To promote equity, privacy, individual freedom, and the free flow of commerce. Says the Order:

  • Many Floridians haven’t had the opportunity to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination and others may be unable to obtain one due to health, religious, or other reasons.
  • COVID-19 vaccination records are private health information that should not be shared by mandate.
  • COVID-19 passports reduce individual freedom and harm patient privacy.
  • Requiring COVID-19 passports for taking part in everyday life – such as attending sporting events, patronizing restaurants, or going to movie theaters – would create two classes of citizens, based on vaccination.
  • And, the state must protect the fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians and the free flow of commerce.

Thus, the Order prohibits the Florida government, its subdivisions, agents, and assigns from (1) issuing vaccine passports, vaccine passes, or other standardized documents certifying an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status to a third party; and (2) otherwise publishing or sharing any individual’s COVID-19 vaccination record or similar health information.

Businesses in Florida may not, under the Order, require patrons or customers to provide documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business.

All Florida executive agencies must work to ensure that businesses comply with the Order.

And, all businesses must comply with the Order to be eligible for state-funded grants and contracts.

The Order recites that it does not otherwise restrict businesses from instituting COVID-19 screening protocols, in accordance with state and federal law, to protect public health. Likewise, the Order doesn’t expressly prohibit employers from requiring employees to get vaccinated, consistent with applicable law.

The Order went into effect when issued and will remain in effect until Florida’s COVID-19-based state of emergency ends.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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