Orlando, FL

Here's What the Vaccine Passport Ban Means for Florida Businesses

Joe Duncan

Going foward, you can't ask for proof of vaccination

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Florida State Government

A policial kufuffle kicked off early this month when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 2006 (SB2006), otherwise known as the Emergency Management bill. Among other things, the bill bans so-called "vaccine passports" in the State of Florida. Now, if you're anything like me, as you watched the bickering back and forth on the subject, you probably sat and wondered to yourself, "What on earth is a vaccine passport?"

The FL.gov site says, of the bill:

The bill takes aim at arbitrary lockdowns, vaccine passports and enhances emergency preparedness for future emergencies. Governor DeSantis also signed Executive Orders 21-101 and 21-102 suspending all local emergency orders until July 1, 2021, at which point local orders will be permanently invalidated pursuant to SB 2006.

So let's unpack this. First, when you get vaccinated, you'll be given a card with your vaccination status. If you get one shot only (from a single dose vaccine), the card will let you know that with a sticker placed on the front of it. If you need two shots, you'll get two stickers, one for each dose.

Now, of course nobody is banning these little cards.

The vaccine passports ban essentially makes it illegal for private businesses to require proof of vaccination before patrons enter their premises. And this extends to educational institutions as well.

Schools can't require proof of vaccination in order for the students to attend.

It also provides a sweeping ban on local ordinances that try to impose such laws, so let's say the City of Orlando tries to enact legislation that makes requesting to see someone's vaccination status legal, or even required, those local ordinances would be nullified under SB2006.

As Governor Ron DeSantis' press release states:

SB 2006 will ensure that neither the state nor local governments can close businesses or keep students out of in-person instruction at Florida schools, except for hurricane emergencies, and caps all local emergency at seven-day increments.

SB2006 was signed May 4th but it isn't slated to take effect until Jully 1st, 2021. However, those executive orders serve as a stopgap between the two dates, meaning the law is effective immediately.

If you're a Florida business owner, you can't require proof of vaccination status from anyone in exchange for your business services. This has put many business owners in the hot seat, as they scramble to deal with the fact that they're now responsible for keeping patrons safe while being stripped of the power to effectively curtail the spread of the virus at their establishment.

There's no quid pro quo. You can't say, "I'll let you onto my business property if you show me proof you show me proof that you've been vaccinated."

Combine this with the legislation signed earlier this year, legislation that states that all local mask ordinances are nullified, the decision now rests with each and every individual business in Florida whether they want to require masks from everyone as a safety precaution or just take the risk of allowing everyone n the premises unmasked.

Here in the Greater Orlando Area, many businesses have finally dropped mask policies or they've made them suggestions. Publix, the large grocery chain (with some of the most phenomenal subs in all of Florida, as you well know) has stated that vaccinated patrons are able to shop mask-free; SB2006, however, strips Publix of the ability to determined if you've been vaccinated or not.

With the new CDC guidelines, Disney, Sea World, and Busch Gardans have all similarly dropped their mask mandates for patrons attending their amusement parks outdoors.

Norwegian Cruise Lines, along with a few others, have threatened to no longer make the state a stop in their cruise trips, citing fears that an outbreak on their ships could be catastrophic for those who attend.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis fired back that Florida would "fill the void" if the ship companies did just that. And now the debate intensifies over vaccine passports, even though it's officially law in the State of Florida.

The end of the pandemic is (almost) here in Florida and I think most of us Floridians can't wait. We're excited to finally return to a normal life before all of this began.

The takeaway is this: if you're a business owner in Florida, it's up to you what you want to do with your own establishment, but keep in mind, it's illegal to require proof of vaccination in exchange for the entrance to your property.

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Orlando, FL
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