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Chase Hattaway, left, and Michael A. Tessitore, II, right, of Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell. Courtesy Photos Chase Hattaway, left, and Michael A. Tessitore, II, right, of Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell. Courtesy Photos

As of April 5, all Florida residents became eligible to receive one of the FDA approved vaccines. The latest available data from the Florida Department of Health shows that over six million Floridians have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations or the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine. With the state shifting into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida businesses may be interested in requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination prior to providing customers services or allowing customers to enter the business. Doing so, however, may prove difficult because of state and federal law.

On April 2, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 21-81 because of concerns for Floridians who have religious or health objections to obtaining the vaccine, as well as concerns related to Florida’s economy. EO 21-81 not only prevents Florida state and local governments from issuing vaccine passports, but also prevents all Florida businesses from “requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business.” The executive order provides that businesses that do not comply with the order are not eligible to receive grants from or enter into contracts with the state. Businesses should not ignore the order as it directs Florida state agencies to enforce the order and to ensure that businesses are in compliance.

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