Florida will fine businesses $5,000 for violating state vaccine passport ban

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is imposing a $5,000 fine on businesses, schools, and government agencies that require people to show proof of vaccination beginning Sept. 16.

“Promises made, promises kept,” DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said Wednesday.

The fines are part of a bill DeSantis signed in May, which banned vaccine passports state-wide, citing “huge” privacy concerns. Under the new law, the Florida Department of Health published the “Penalties for COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation Requirements,” which state that fines will be issued “per individual and separate violation.” Fines will need to be paid within 30 days.

Businesses are free to require proof of vaccinations from their employees as Florida is an at-will employment state meaning bosses can fire workers for just about any reason – including refusing a vaccine.

“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,” DeSantis said. “If you want to go to the movie theater, should you have to show that? No. If you want to go to a game, no. If you want to go to a theme park, no. I think it’s something that people have certain freedoms and individual liberties to make decisions for themselves,” he added.

Nikki Fried, Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat and current Agriculture Commissioner, slammed the fines. Fried claimed that DeSantis is “retaliating against Floridians who are trying to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19.”

“This not only goes against common sense — it’s also an insult to the free market principles that he claims to champion,” Fried, who hopes to unseat DeSantis in 2022, said.

Florida has administered nearly 14 million single doses and over 11 million double doses. Over 53% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated.