Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has banned businesses from imposing vaccine mandates and now over 100 businesses have been found to be in violation of the law.
The Orlando Sentinel first reported on the list of businesses being investigated by the Florida Department of Health for violating the state’s ban on COVID-19 vaccine passports. Of the over 100 businesses listed, some of the biggest violators are AT&T, Live Nation, Royal Caribbean cruise line, Starbucks, Disney Cruise line and Northrop Grumman, among a variety of other Florida counties and small businesses.
DeSantis’ vaccine mandate ban was signed into law in May and prevents any business or government entity from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination and imposes penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.
People are also allowed to file a complaint with the Florida Department of Health against any business or local government over vaccination requirements, which is how many businesses ended up on the governor’s list of violators.
In October, Leon County, where the state’s capital of Tallahassee is located, was fined $3.57 million by the DeSantis administration for 714 counts of violating the state’s vaccine mandate, as it had required vaccination for all of its employees.
The county has challenged the fine and is awaiting a decision by a Florida judge. Vince Long, Leon County administrator, released a statement saying, “the County strongly contends that our employee vaccination requirement was not only completely legally justifiable, but it was a necessary and responsible action to take to keep our employees safe, protect the public, and ensure our readiness as a frontline response organization.”
It’s unclear if the governor’s office has issued fines to other businesses and agencies that are requiring vaccinations for customers and employees. However, the governor will be holding a special session to ask the Florida legislature, “to provide protections for employees facing termination because of unfair, discriminatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates and to reaffirm that government entities including school districts may not fire any employee based on COVID-19 vaccine status.”
The Orlando area has several businesses that are registered as having violated the governor’s vaccination ban, but Florida state rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith told The Washington Post that he questioned whether DeSantis’ approach is a good way to guide public health policy.
“It’s like there’s a Republican trend of passing laws that encourage our residents to snitch on each other,” Guillermo-Smith told the Post.
DeSantis’ ban on vaccine mandates goes hand-in-hand with the governor’s previous executive order banning school districts from requiring students to wear masks while in school.
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