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Florida health department moves forward on vaccine ‘passport’ ban

The department published a proposed rule related to the new law on Friday.
RN Corey Price prepares a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for administration on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
RN Corey Price prepares a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for administration on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jul. 30

The Florida Department of Health on Friday published a proposed rule that would carry out a new law allowing the state to levy $5,000 fines against businesses, government agencies and educational institutions that violate a ban on so-called COVID-19 “vaccine passports.”

The proposed rule also would require that the fines be paid within 30 days unless indicated otherwise in a final order.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has made a priority of blocking businesses and other entities from requiring people to show proof of vaccination — the concept known as vaccine passports.

Related: DeSantis signs bill banning vaccine ‘passports,’ suspends local pandemic restrictions

DeSantis issued an executive order on the issue in April, and the Legislature subsequently passed a bill putting the ban in state law.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban, as the company says it should be able to require passengers to show proof of vaccination.

Related: Florida fires back in Norwegian Cruise's challenge to vaccine 'passport' ban

The Department of Health published the proposed rule Friday as the numbers of COVID-19 infections in the state spiral upward because of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus. According to federal data, Florida had 71,948 new COVID-19 cases in the five-day span from Saturday to Wednesday.