Courtesy of Channel 4 JAX News
Published March 21, 2021
TALLAHASSEE — Pointing to privacy concerns, Florida Gov.
Ron DeSantis said Monday he will issue emergency rules this week that
prevent businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccinations
through COVID-19 “passports” and will ask the Legislature to pass a
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.”
DeSantis said he thought vaccine passports would create
“huge” privacy issues that could result in people handing
over medical information to a “big corporation.”
“You want the fox to guard the henhouse, I mean give me a
break,” the Republican governor said during an event at the
Capitol in which he signed a bill (SB 72) that will shield
businesses and health-care providers from lawsuits related
As of Sunday, 3,141,836 people in Florida had been fully
vaccinated against COVID-19, through either two doses of
Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson &
Johnson vaccine, according to state data. Another 2,537,765
people had received one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna
vaccines and were awaiting their second doses.
DeSantis said that while he would use his
emergency powers to prevent businesses from requiring
customers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, he also
wants the Legislature to pass a bill during the ongoing
“We need the Legislature to come in and
just say this is not happening in Florida,” said DeSantis,
noting that emergency orders expire. “I think it would
provide a lot of certainty to a lot of people to say that.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday, March 29 signed
a bill (SB 72) that will shield businesses and health-care providers
from lawsuits related to COVID-19. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on
Monday, March 29 signed a bill (SB 72) that will shield businesses
and health-care providers from lawsuits related to COVID-19.
DeSantis’ comments came after news reports that the Biden administration is
considering pushing federal agencies and private companies to develop a
program that would allow people to show they have been vaccinated against
the virus that causes COVID-19.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, airline trade organizations and airline labor
unions sent a letter to the Biden administration’s asking that the United
States set some kind of standards for traveling.
The European Union also has announced that it plans to issue a “Digital
Green Certificate” that will allow European Union citizens to freely travel
across member nations. The certificates will prove that people have been
vaccinated against COVID-19, have already recovered from the virus or have
tested negative. The goal is for the Digital Green certificates to be in
play by summer.
In Israel, people who are vaccinated or who already have been infected by
COVID-19 can get a “green pass” from the Health Ministry. The app allows
them access to gyms, theaters and clubs.
DeSantis said lawmakers could include the ban on COVID-19 passports as part
of bills they are considering related to the pandemic, including bills that
would limit gubernatorial power and local-government authority.
The idea of having to show proof of vaccinations is not new. Florida
requires children in public and private schools to be vaccinated against
several diseases or submit written religious exemptions.
DeSantis’s remarks about COVID-19 passports came as he signed the liability
bill, which received final legislative approval Friday. DeSantis was joined
by House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Senate President Wilton
Simpson, R-Trilby, among others. The ceremonial event kicked off in an
unusual way to the Beatles and Joe Cocker tune, “With a Little Help from My
Friends,” performed by a band called Highway 85.
The liability proposal was a top priority for GOP legislative leaders who
had been pressed to shield businesses from lawsuits since the beginning of
the pandemic. It was the first bill from the 2021 legislative session that
DeSantis signed into law.
The law provides protections to businesses across the state, including
nursing homes and assisted living facilities that were closed to visitors
for nearly six months. But the law, which took effect immediately, will last
for only one year. Lawmakers would have to pass additional legislation to
extend the protections beyond March 29, 2022.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where people are scared of being sued
just for doing normal things,” DeSantis said. “We worked very early on to
look and see ways we could provide some certainty for both business and
health-care providers. This was obviously a top priority for many of us up
The law establishes new rules about personal-injury lawsuits related to
COVID-19. The law, for example, requires people who are not alleging medical
malpractice or violations of nursing-home resident rights to have physicians
sign affidavits stating that the defendants caused the injuries or damages.
Business owners would be immune from liability if courts determine they made
good-faith efforts to substantially comply with government-issued health
standards or guidance.
In pursuing COVID-19 medical-malpractice claims or nursing home-related
claims, people filing lawsuits would not need to obtain physician
affidavits. But they would be required to prove that the health care
providers’ actions were grossly negligent, which is a higher legal threshold
than normal. Health care providers that substantially complied with
authoritative or applicable government-issued health standards or guidance
related to COVID-19 would also have immunity.
Simpson praised DeSantis for his handling of COVID-19, which has infected
more than 2 million Floridians and killed 33,247 residents.
“This governor had a vision, as soon as we shut down, about how do we reopen
safely?” Simpson said. “How do we protect our most vulnerable? How do we get
our economy moving? That shows up in every metric and every set of numbers
we can derive from the pandemic. So, this governor has shown great
leadership. We had businesses, front-line workers in health care, that in
the face of the tragedy they were facing last March, April and May, had to
go to work every day, had to prepare, had less PPE (personal protective
equipment) than they would have preferred to have had. This bill is
essential to make sure we protected those folks.”