FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As a new law goes into effect banning vaccine passports in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday reiterated his commitment to protecting jobs in the state.
Last week, President Joe Biden announced a mandate that requires employers with more than 100 workers to require vaccines. The new mandate also applies to all federal employees of the executive branch, which does not include Congress.
DeSantis signed an executive order earlier this year banning so-called vaccine passports or requiring proof of vaccination, and Florida lawmakers passed a new law that also includes a vaccine passport ban.
According to a spokesperson for the governor, the new Florida law, which went into effect Thursday, would impose a fine of $5,000 per violation of the vaccine passport ban, meaning for every person who did not get vaccinated and then was required to, the county, city or employer would be fined $5,000.
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During a news conference Thursday in South Florida, the governor said mandates could force people out of a job, including first responders.
“I think offering incentives, providing information, encouraging, I think is well within their rights and, you know, I think that would be totally appropriate. What’s not appropriate under Florida law is to fire somebody based on on this issue. We’ve got to protect people’s jobs. We’ve got to protect people’s livelihoods,” he said.
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DeSantis said the law impacts government agencies and said access cannot be denied to somebody who shows up to their job. The governor highlighted officers, firefighters and nurses who have not been vaccinated “for whatever reason” and have been on the front lines of the pandemic. He said these measures could be “counterproductive” in these fields, especially.
“You’re going to now potentially force people out of an industry that’s short-handed. Because if even 10% of those at risk of being terminated decide that they’re not going to go through and be forced, you’re going to be even more short-handed,” DeSantis said.
Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis said he supports firefighters’ and paramedics’ right to choose because they have been dealing with COVID on the frontlines throughout pandemic.