As the Biden administration eyes a set of standards for proving COVID-19 vaccination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is already pushing back against measures that could make it safer to travel.
During a press conference on Monday, March 29, DeSantis revealed he plans to introduce "an executive function" that would prohibit businesses from refusing service to any individuals who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine. He also lambasted the idea of implementing vaccine passports.
"We are not supporting doing any vaccine passports in the state of Florida," he said at the press conference, according to 10 Tampa Bay. "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.
DeSantis added, "You want to go to a movie theatre, should you have to show [a vaccine passport]? No. You want to go to a game, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a theme park? No. We're not supportive of that."
In addition to the executive measure targeting vaccine passports, a new expansive bill, dubbed SB 72, is a top Republican priority that has also been expedited through the Florida Legislature. It aims to expand the number of protections and coronavirus liabilities for healthcare providers and businesses. In a nutshell, Republicans are making it even more difficult for individuals to sue amid the ongoing pandemic.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, the bill aims to:
- Floridians cannot sue a business, government or other group if a judge determines the defendants made "a good faith effort" to abide by government health guidance at the time of an alleged problem.
- Anyone filing a lawsuit will be required to include an affidavit from a physician who can attest that their COVID-19-related injuries were caused by the party being sued.
- Even if a plaintiff can show a business did not act in good faith, the bill would make it harder for those suing to win a case. The law raises the standard of proof in these cases from the usual "preponderance of evidence" to "clear and convincing evidence."
- The bill requires that Floridians sue within one year of an alleged COVID-19-related problem.
According to Business Insider, DeSantis has already shut down the idea of another lockdown. "To even contemplate doing any type of lockdown, honestly it's insane," DeSantis said. "That's not gonna happen in the state of Florida. We're gonna continue doing what works, but under no circumstances would we entertain anything of the sort."
As of Tuesday, March 30, Florida has the third-highest COVID outbreak in the United States with more than 2 million reported cases and over 33,000 COVID-related deaths.