Politics & Policy

Florida Businesses That Require Proof of Vaccination Can Be Fined $5,000

Florida governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign rally at Pensacola International Airport in Pensacola, Fla., October 23, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Florida businesses that violate the state’s ban on vaccine passports will be subject to a $5,000 fine from the state department of health.

A new rule by the Florida health department says the agency will fine “any business entity, governmental entity, or educational institution” that requires proof of vaccination. The fine will apply “per individual and separate violation” and must be paid within 30 days.

However, the fine will not apply to vaccine mandates for employees, as Florida is an at-will employment state.

A spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis told Fox 13 Tampa Bay on Wednesday that the new rule is an example of “promises made, promises kept” by the administration.

DeSantis has been staunchly opposed to vaccine and mask mandates in the state.

Earlier this year, DeSantis called it “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.”

The new rule comes nearly a week after a Florida judge ruled that DeSantis had overstepped his authority by banning public institutions from enacting mask mandates.

In his opinion, Judge John Cooper wrote that state law “does not support a statewide order, or any action interfering with the constitutionally provided authority of local school districts to provide for the safety and health of children, based on the unique facts on the ground in a particular county.”

He added that the governor’s order contradicts a medical and scientific consensus that masks are effective in curbing transmission of COVID.

“The evidence submitted by the defendant [the state] I think reflects a minority, perhaps even a small minority of medical and scientific opinion,” Cooper said.

Despite the judge’s ruling, the Florida Department of Education announced earlier this week that it had withheld funding from two school districts that imposed mask mandates without a parental opt-out in violation of the mask-mandate ban.

The state said it would withhold an amount equal to the school board members’ salaries and that it plans to continue withholding the funds each month until the districts change their mask policies.

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