‘I have no doubt you’ll see some litigation:’ Florida health department sends official ‘vax passport’ violations

Leon County hit with $3.4M in fines by state health department

The Florida State Health Department has started sending out official notices of violations and fines for ‘vaccination passport’ violations.

“Our law is very clear. We basically don’t want people to be discriminated against them wanting to be able to live their lives, regardless of their status on getting the shots,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Leon County is the first to receive official notice from the state health department.

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The county is facing more than $3.5 million in fines for 714 counts violating the so-called ‘vaccine passport’ law. The county required its employees to show proof of vaccination or get fired.

“I have no doubt you’ll see some litigation between local government and state,” News 6 Legal Analyst Steve Kramer said.

Kramer pointed out in the violation letter, the health department states the county is violating the law that “prohibits governmental entities from requiring that a person provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination to gain access to, entry upon or service.”

Kramer said there’s something missing: employment.

“Because the law is silent as to whether government agencies can require employees to be vaccinated, that is where the local government might have a successful argument against this law,” Kramer said.

Orange County has a similar vaccine mandate as Leon County, appearing on the health department’s list of entities under review. At the last check, the mayor said he hasn’t received any violation letter.

The Amway Center is also under review by the state health department after the Harry Styles concert held last weekend. The organizer required guests to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination.

The law has already been challenged by the Norwegian Cruise Line. The company requires a certain percentage of its customers to be vaccinated. In August a federal judge sided with the cruise line, ruling the state’s ban on so-called ‘vaccine passports’ violates its First Amendment rights.

Entities like Leon County that receive a violation letter can petition for a hearing within three weeks or pay a fine.


About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.