This is What Businesses Need to Know About Florida’s COVID-19 ‘Vaccine Passport’ Ban
Florida’s ban on so-called COVID-19 ‘vaccine passports’ begins July 1, 2021. Unlike guidance issued by public health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida’s ban on COVID-19 vaccine passports is mandatory, not voluntary. Those who fail to comply can be fined up to $5,000 per violation. As a result, businesses have a vested interest in knowing what they can and cannot do under Florida’s new COVID-19 vaccine documentation law.
Who is subject to the ban? The law broadly applies to most business entities in Florida, as well as educational institutions and governmental entities. It does not apply to various healthcare-related businesses, which are specifically identified in the statute.
What is a business entity? The law broadly defines business entity to include any business operating in Florida. Unless specifically excluded, any form of corporation, partnership, association, cooperative, joint venture, business trust or sole proprietorship that conducts business in this state must comply with the vaccine passport ban.
What does the law prohibit? Covered business entities “may not require patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business operations in this state.”
What does the law allow? Covered business entities are allowed to institute screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government-issued guidance to protect public health.
Does the ban extend to employees? No. The law prohibits business entities from requiring “patrons or customers” to provide vaccination documentation. Legislators could have added “employees” to the list, but they didn’t.
The law itself is short and relatively straightforward, but like most things COVID, questions remain. For example, how will potential conflicts between Florida’s ban on vaccine passports and Florida’s COVID-19 Liability Protection law be resolved? Time will tell. In the meantime, since we don’t yet know how this law will be interpreted or enforced, those who are (or may be) covered business entities should proceed with caution.
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