Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has taken a hardline stance against so-called COVID-19 “immunity passports,” calling them discriminatory for their potential to create a vaccine-based class system, and has banned them in the Sunshine State.
DeSantis on Friday signed an executive order which bans Floridians from having to show their coronavirus immunity status in order to live lives free of harassment and to prevent potential discrimination and intrusive questions about a person’s private health information.
“Today I issued an executive order prohibiting the use of so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports,” the governor tweeted. “The Legislature is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians and I look forward to signing them into law soon.”
Today I issued an executive order prohibiting the use of so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports. The Legislature is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians and I look forward to signing them into law soon. Read my EO here – https://t.co/6QwLsLWEWm
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 2, 2021
DeSantis shared a link to the executive order which attacks the idea of immunity passports for their potential to erode the individual liberty of his state’s citizens and to divide them.
In the order, DeSantis argued that “requiring so-called Covid-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life — such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant or going to a movie theater — would create two classes of citizens.”
The order adds that prohibiting such documents is “necessary to protect the fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians and the free flow of commerce within the state”.
“[N]o Florida government entity” or any public official “shall be permitted to issue vaccine passports, vaccine passes, or other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying an individual’s Covid-19 vaccination status to a third party, or otherwise publish or share and individual’s Covid-19 vaccination record or similar health information,” DeSantis stated.
Additionally, per DeSantis’ order, private business shall be “prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying Covid-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business.”
The Republican, who is viewed as a rising star in the party and is being floated as a potential contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, issued the order as the concept of immunity passports has taken root in recent weeks.
Once floated as a joke from fed-up skeptics of government overreach online, such passports now have the support of the White House.
Asked about Andy Slavitt, the Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, giving such immunity passports his blessing this past week, Psaki embraced the idea of such documents, but said private businesses would be encouraged to take the lead.
“There’s currently an interagency process that is looking at many of the questions around vaccine verification,” Psaki said, according to an official White House transcript of her remarks from her March 29 daily media briefing. “And that issue will touch many agencies as verification is an issue that will potentially touch many sectors of society, as you have certainly alluded to. That’s guidance we’ll provide.”
“We expect — as Andy Slavitt, I think, alluded to — that a determination or development of a vaccine passport, or whatever you want to call it, will be driven by the private sector,” added the press secretary. “Ours will more be focused on guidelines that can be used as a basis. And there are a couple key principles that we are working from.”
Psaki added there will be “no centralized, universal federal vaccinations database” and that there will be “no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”
DeSantis quickly attacked the idea of the passports this week, and has made it clear that such “passports” in Florida will not be tolerated as his administration continues to balance protecting jobs, medical privacy and his state’s large population of retirees amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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