Gov. Ron DeSantis has emphatically resisted placing restrictions on businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But DeSantis this week suggested he may go after companies if they require customers to show proof that they are vaccinated, saying “it’s more than just a private decision.”
The governor was referring to what have been called COVID-19 passports, a phenomenon gathering momentum abroad.
“It’s a very, very bad idea,” DeSantis said of requiring COVID-19 passports. “Look, if you want to go to a movie theater or a concert or all this stuff, go. If you don’t, don’t. But, to require someone to show some type of proof of vaccination is completely unacceptable. It’s not something we are going to support here in any way.”
DeSantis first broached the topic during an hour-long public health roundtable, where he met with four scientists who have denounced lockdowns and school closures as a way to prevent the spread of the deadly virus that causes COVID-19. DeSantis has repeatedly gone on Fox News in recent weeks to tout Florida’s response to COVID-19 and criticize other states run by Democratic governors.
As more people get vaccinated in the hopes of returning to a pre-COVID-19 existence, including traveling, debate has emerged about whether countries should require COVID-19 passports as a way to create a pathway.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, airline trade organizations and airline labor unions sent a letter to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 Response Team coordinator, Jeff Zients, last week asking that the United States set some kind of standards for traveling.
The European Union announced this week that it intends to use a “Digital Green Certificate” that will allow European Union citizens to freely travel across member nations. The certificates will prove that people have been vaccinated against COVID-19, have already recovered from the virus or have tested negative. The goal is for the Digital Green Certificates to be in play by summer.
European Union member states that restrict travelers with green certificates would be required to notify the EU Commission and all member states and justify the decisions.
In Israel, people who are vaccinated or who already have been infected by COVID-19 can get a “green pass” from the Health Ministry. The app allows them to access to gyms, theaters and clubs.
DeSantis made clear Thursday he has no intention of following Europe or Israel’s lead.
“We are definitely not going to require anything, from the state’s perspective. That is totally off the table,” DeSantis said. “If I have businesses that want to do that in Florida, I think that is more than just a private decision. I think that impacts our society. That impacts people, particularly disadvantaged people, in a way that would really be negative for our state.”
While the concept of the “passport” comes during the COVID-19 pandemic, it wouldn’t be the first time people have been asked to show proof of immunization, said Jay Wolfson, a professor of public health, medicine and pharmacy and senior associate dean at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine
“When measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough and polio were rampant, they would wipe out entire communities,” Wolfson said. “So when we developed vaccines for them over the course of the last several decades, most school districts in the country required that students and their families demonstrate that their children had been vaccinated for those horrible diseases. And that even holds true for most universities now.”
DeSantis made his comments at an event in the Capitol building, which has been mostly closed to the public during the Legislature’s annual 60-day session.
Lawmakers and their spouses must be tested for COVID-19 before being allowed entrance to the building, as are reporters. The Senate is not authorizing lobbyists or members of the public to enter the building, requiring them to offer testimony on bills from a remote location. The House allows lobbyists in but on a limited basis.
Wolfson said it is unlikely that Florida businesses would require patrons to show proof of vaccination or negative tests. He said proprietors are unlikely to embrace something that could drive off customers.
Even if they did, though, Wolfson said enforcing the policy would be a challenge.
“The governor has made it clear he will nullify any policies that punish patrons for not following masks or distancing,” Wolfson said.
Legislative leaders, meanwhile, have mixed sentiments about whether businesses should be able to require COVID-19 vaccinations.
Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, predicted that the majority of Florida residents who want to be vaccinated will be by June and that COVID-19 vaccine passports shouldn’t be an issue.
But when pressed as to whether private businesses should be able to require customers to have COVID-19 passports or be able to ban unvaccinated customers from entering, Simpson saw things differently from the governor.
“On the surface I would say ‘yes’ because they are a private business. They can do what they want,” the Senate president said. “But, clearly, they will bear the responsibility of that decision.”
House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said requiring passports isn’t necessary.
“That’s totally and wholly unreasonable based on what’s happening out there in the world. I think that businesses have required a number of things that comply with CDC (federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines. I don’t believe that is something that the CDC is even calling for,” Sprowls said. “I have not had a single business owner who has reached out to me and said we are in dire need of doing a COVID-19 vaccine passport.”
–Christine Sexton, News Service of Florida
R. S. says
The US required a universal document of immunizations in the sixties. I don’t understand what he’s got against it. Trumpublican diehard?
Susan s says
Agree there should be a Covid passport. This way the anti-vaxers will have NO CHOICE but to get the shot. It’s not fair to the people as we will not get to herd immunity. Israel is doing it right. No vaccine – no movie!
Who does this guy think he is?
Hes RonDon. A Trump lapdog
Big words from a govenor that hasnt green lighted vaccines for the homeless yet. I guess he is only worried about the disinfranchised when it favors him, unlike the rich guving donations for vaccines.
Carol L Pagliuca says
It’s no one’s business, that’s why we have HIPPA Laws
What a misguided control freak!
I believe those that have been vaccinated in Florida have a card saying so.
Back Off Now says
I’m glad he’s against it. Its NOBODY’S DAMN BUSINESS if someone has gotten vaccinations or not. I for one am DAMN tired of given up my RIGHTS and FREEDOMS to liberal, socialist, idiots.
Ray W. says
I suspect that Back Off Now has never taken the time to study the differences between liberalism and socialism. Perhaps Winston Churchill said it best:
“Liberalism has its own history and its own tradition. Socialism has its own formulas and aims. Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right. Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass. Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly.” CHURCHILL by His Contemporaries, pg. 75.
I ask FlaglerLive readers to ponder Churchill’s intent in focusing on the trammels caused by the privileged and preferred upon enterprise in the pursuit of monopoly.
I also ask FlagerLive readers to consider Churchill’s intent in focusing on how reconciling private interests with public rights enhances both. I suppose one argument could be that a stable and prosperous society allows private interests to thrive without allowing those who are least able to wither, something few monopolies ever factor into their business model. I support my argument by stating that our liberal democratic tradition for the last century has created the most stable and prosperous society in the history of the world. While a liberal democracy faces many problems on a daily basis, an illiberal monopoly would impose far greater problems, in both number and seriousness, on the populace.
I ask Back Off Now to reconsider his puppet-like adoption of the so-called conservative mantra of linking liberalism and socialism; they just are not the same thing, no matter how good it makes Back Off Now feel to link them together.
As for giving up rights and freedoms, we have been arguing that for well over two centuries. I suspect that argument will never end, nor should it. I accept the philosophical argument that there are only three great questions, which by definition can never be answered. Each individual will spend his or her entire life trying to answer any one or all three of the questions, without success. Whenever anyone thinks one or all three of the great questions has been answered, the argument has automatically been lost. The three great questions? How shall I live my life? How shall I be governed? How do I know what I know? As an aside, the following is attributed to Lincoln: All great problems are unsolvable. If they could be solved, they wouldn’t be great problems!
And will there be a “ribbon” that everyone must wear, to designate you’ve been vaccinated. Or hey maybe a nifty little armband, you know the type, can be worn over any article of clothing. I would highly discourage the color combo of red, black, and white, that one has already been used, although you sound a lot like those people that wore those arm bands………like a Seinfeld episode, …”you must wear the ribbon, everybody wears the ribbon”………..on a side note we should also have passports for diseases such as herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, aids, hepatitis a, b, and c,. Also we should probably be testing border crosses for chuckagunya and that disease that makes babies have microencephalitis-small head. Gotta look out for everyone else you know……..
Ray W. says
Speaking of old things being tried anew, according to William Shirer, Edward Murrow’s counterpart at CBS (Murrow was in London, Shirer dispatched from the European continent, including several years in Berlin), Hitler’s slogan in the 1932 election that gained the Nazi’s enough seats in Germany’s Parliament to install Hitler in the government was: “Make Germany Great Again!” Just read Shirer’s “The Nightmare Years”, published in 1984.
Trailer Bob says
Stupid and wasteful concept.
We gonna do that for every Virus?
Cant say I like or care much for RonDon or his Agenda Vote him out so We can move on put C19 to rest and take our State back from the continual mantra of the Trumplicans on our everyday lives.
Yes, and also show proper id for voting , and a birth certificate , ss number and us citizenship for all social engagements!
@Different day – same old crap
Most of the population are treated like livestock, including ear tags, but the activities of the fat cat overlords are always deserving of a veil of so-called privacy. All of this bullshit is supported on election day by gun nuts basing every vote, first, last, and always, on unlimited guns and ammo, e.g., the floriduh manufacturer who just introduced a so-called pistol with a 50 round magazine; the weapon is chambered for a cartridge that can defeat body armor – the manufacturer highlights that.
3 dead LEO, 140 LEO injured in the Republican party’s attack on the nation’s capitol; a floriduh Republican party that serves only the rights of owners of cop killer ammunition, gun fighting as the answer to every problem, and the usual: unlimited monopolies, pollution, land development, tax cuts for the 1%, etc., etc.
Row well 41 – we keep you alive to serve the Republican’s ski boat…
And just how many OTHER states are requiring this, huh ! , WHATS NEXT ! I can see it now you have to have a passport to cross over into GA. I can imagine the backup at major highways. Then WHATS NEXT a passport to go from county to county within the state , laugh, the way the left thinking is going, why not. Lets just get people vaccinated first then worry about FLA wide protection but of course we have those, I”m Not Going to Get Vaccinated, which is the same people in the I don”t care Crowd and the open migration of tourist that don’t seem to care either. Yep we got bigger problems in Fl than some passport.
@”And just how many OTHER states are requiring this, huh ! , WHATS NEXT !…”
Apparently the title stumped you:
‘Covid Passports’? Not in Florida, Governor Declares, Threatening Sanctions Against Companies That Try It
You’re speaking of something else entirely.
Moreover, desantis spouts nonsense and his mindless supporters cheer. How many times have Republicans argued a business has the right to discriminate against anyone they choose?
Try refusing a cop’s proper request that you present your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Do you not support proof of age to buy alcohol or tobacco? Would you rather cashiers and bank tellers not bother with requiring identification?
desantis isn’t concerned about any burden to you – or businesses. desantis’ only objective is the defense of his (and trump’s) dishonesty and utter fecklessness in responding to a major disaster.
“All that we don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing.”
— Philip Roth
Yes the Gov is talking nonsense, But I asked “how many OTHER states are requiring this”, if you don’t know don’t answer. Also I never said anything about refusing a cops request or a bank teller, for your ID. Not sure where you drummed up that unless you are just writing to be writing. But I agree with what you wrote regarding our Gov. .
So it’s not ok to make people prove they should be allowed to vote but it’s just fine to make them prove they have been vaccinated???