New Law Prohibits Florida Businesses from Requiring Vaccine Passport from Patrons and Customers

On May 3, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law SB 2006 (codified as Section 381.00316, Florida Statutes).  The law prevents business entities from requiring that patrons or customers provide documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery to enter or obtain service from a business in Florida. It also prohibits educational institutions from requiring students or residents, and governmental entities from requiring persons, to provide vaccination passports or proof of post-infection recovery. The law does not prohibit screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government-issued guidance, including those requiring facial coverings.

Although the law takes effect on July 1, 2021, as to the prohibition applicable to business entities, it effectively is an extension of signed Executive Order 21-81, which became effective in Florida on April 2, 2021. Violation of SB 2006 can result in a fine of up to $5,000 per violation. SB 2006 includes certain exemptions, including health care providers.

Like Executive Order 21-81, Section 381.00316 does not appear to prohibit business from requiring their own employees from showing proof of vaccination. Employers must, however, carefully analyze how such a requirement may be affected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII’s religious protections, and other laws.

Businesses must balance the new statutory mandate against requiring vaccine passports for patrons and customers with potential liability exposure for spreading COVID-191 and the duty to protect employees. As a result, businesses that have not already done so should consider updating their COVID-19-related policies and employee handbook to require compliance with authoritative or controlling government-issued health standards or guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

See Footnotes

1 Florida has a liability law related to claims based on damages from COVID-19, which protects businesses, governmental entities, schools and other persons and entities from COVID-19 lawsuits if they made a good faith effort to follow guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and places a high burden to prevail.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.