The Florida Department of Health will start fining businesses and other entities $5,000 for each violation of the state’s ban on vaccine passports.
According to the state agency’s rule, “Penalties for COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation Requirements,” fines will be imposed on “any business entity, governmental entity, or educational institution” in violation starting Sept. 16.
The $5,000 fine will apply “per individual and separate violation” and must be paid within 30 days.
“Promises made, promises kept,” Taryn Fenske, spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, told WTVT-TV in Tampa on Wednesday.
The fine does not apply to vaccine mandates businesses impose upon their own employees.
Florida is an at-will employment state, which means employees have limited rights and may be terminated for a wide variety of reasons unless they are unionized or are under contract, legal experts told WTVT.
“Governor DeSantis is retaliating against Floridians who are trying to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat campaigning to run against DeSantis in 2022, told the outlet in a statement.
“This not only goes against common sense — it’s also an insult to the free market principles that he claims to champion,” Fried added.
DeSantis has consistently opposed vaccine mandates in Florida.
“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 be able to participate in normal society,” he said at a news conference in March, NPR reported.
Florida is not currently enforcing its ban on vaccine mandates on cruise lines after a federal judge issued a temporary injunction allowing Norwegian Cruise Line to require proof of vaccination from passengers.
The state saw a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations over the last few weeks as the delta variant surged in the state.
DeSantis has encouraged Floridians to get vaccinated, saying vaccines are effective against the virus.
“We recognize that cases and hospitalizations have shifted to a younger demographic because we have been so successful with vaccinating seniors,” Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for the governor, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement in August.
“Again, we must continue this stride to expand vaccination rates across eligible age groups. As stated by Governor DeSantis, ‘These vaccines are saving lives, and reducing the mortality of COVID-19,'” she said.
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