Ron DeSantis to ban ‘vaccine passports’

The Governor wants the Legislature to follow suit for the long term.
Gov. Ron DeSantis will take executive action this week to prevent businesses from implementing “vaccine passports” in Florida.

The Governor told reporters to expect an order sometime this week as well as legislation along those lines from the House and Senate.

People should be able to make their own choices regarding vaccinations and shouldn’t need proof to begin living life normally again, he added. Banning vaccine passports would provide certainty to people DeSantis.

“We’re taking action, and we’re going to work with the Legislature that whatever gets across the finish line to reform in light of this will also have something to say that that just simply is not going to be permitted in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

The Governor, who has taken aim at Big Tech in recent months and is backing legislation to protect internet users’ privacy, also roped large corporations into his critique.

“You’re going to do this and, what, give all this information to some big corporation? You want the fox to guard the hen house? Give me a break,” DeSantis said. “I think this is something that has huge privacy implications. It is not necessary to do.”

Vaccine passports are documents that show a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for the virus that causes it. The information is stored on a phone or other mobile device that the user shows to an airline employee or border officers. The Biden administration and others want a paper version available, too.

DeSantis didn’t say exactly what his ban would cover, but it appears targeted toward businesses who may be considering requiring proof of vaccination for entry.

“I understand how some folks can embrace the idea, and I’m not saying it’s all necessarily done for bad purposes, but I think ultimately it would create problems in the state,” DeSantis said.

The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee will convene Tuesday to discuss legislation (SB 1924), filed by Hialeah Republican Sen. Manny Díaz, to limit local governments’ abilities to place lockdowns and emergency orders during states of emergency. DeSantis has backed that proposal for more than a month.

“I had to pry a lot of this stuff open over the summer, and that’s why we see boom in certain parts of the state as a result of that,” he said.

DeSantis also voiced his support for limiting the Governor’s ability to place lockdowns, a proposal raised by St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes and others. Brandes plans to file legislation that would require at least one other member of the Florida Cabinet to sign off on orders like lockdowns.

“Even though I didn’t take that, what if I had done that or someone else had done that?” DeSantis posed. “There needs to be some checks there.”

While he “utilized this power judiciously,” governors of other states have locked down businesses and schools and destroyed lives, he added.

“I was trying to lift people up rather than continuing to lock people down,” DeSantis said.

At the same press conference, the Governor signed his first bill of the year, enacting legislation (SB 72) to give businesses and health care providers some protections from COVID-19 lawsuits. Those liability protections have been a request from DeSantis and businesses.

Banning vaccine passports could become a point of contention for some business owners.