Florida is set to start fining businesses, government entities and schools up to $5,000 for asking customers or visitors to show proof they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
"Promises made, promises kept," a spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis, Taryn Fenske, said of the rule explaining the fines, according to Fox 13.
The Florida Department of Health published a rule last week titled, "Penalties for COVID
Documentation Requirements," that will take effect on Sept. 16 and will result in fines of up to $5,000 being issued "per individual and separate violation." Fines will need to be paid within 30 days.
The fines come after DeSantis signed a bill in May banning vaccine
passports, which he said would spur "huge" privacy concerns.
"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," the governor said before signing his executive order. "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."
Cruise lines and businesses that mandate vaccines
for their employees will be exempt from the fines.
Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, slammed the fines as DeSantis "retaliating against Floridians who are trying to protect themselves and their communities from COVID
"This not only goes against common sense — it’s also an insult to the free market principles that he claims to champion," Fried, who is running to unseat DeSantis in 2022, said in the statement.
DeSantis's press secretary Christian Pushaw told Fox News of the fines that "Floridians have the right to medical privacy."
"Individual vaccination records are private health information, which should not be shared by mandate," Pushaw said. "Allowing businesses and educational institutions to require vaccine
passports as a condition of entry or service would create a two-tiered society, which is unfair."
"The decision to get a COVID vaccine
should be up to individuals, who have the power to make the right choices for themselves and their families. The government’s role is to provide information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines
, and to ensure that all eligible residents have access to the vaccines
," she added.
Pushaw also noted that DeSantis has promoted monoclonal antibody treatment sites in recent weeks, but has also spoken positively of vaccines
"Governor DeSantis is making decisions based on empirical evidence, upholding the rule of law, and protecting all Floridians’ individual rights. Defending individual rights from unjustified overreach, whether by government or business, is a legitimate use of state executive power."