JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Thursday, the State of Florida began issuing $5,000 fines to businesses, schools and government agencies that require people to show proof of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill earlier this year banning vaccine passports.
”What the governor is doing, i think that’s a way of saying, hey, let people decide for themselves what to do, if they want to wear a mask, if they want to go get vaccinated, let them decide for themselves,” The Wreck owner Fernando Meza told Action News Jax.
The last thing he wants to do is chase customers away by requiring vaccine passports.
But in Neptune beach, Rona Brinlee, who owns The BookMark and requires customers to wear masks, believes businesses have the right to make their own safety rules.
”I think that that’s fine, I think every business should do what makes sense, if I were a restaurant I certainly would feel comfortable doing that,” she said.
Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson says businesses have the right to refuse service to customers as long as it’s not racial or sexual discrimination.
Carson says a business can fight the fine in court, but that can take years. An unvaccinated customer also has the right to fight a business that refuses to serve them, Carson said.
As for Meza and Brinlee, all are welcome at their businesses.
”You’re vaccinated, you’re welcome, if you’re not vaccinated, you’re still welcome,” Meza said.
Brinlee tells Action News Jax she offers customers masks in her shop.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is ordering businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate the vaccine.
Though the mandate doesn’t apply to his business, Meza is against it.
”Right now with the federal government, I think it’s an overreach,” he said.
Dr. Cameron Webb is on the White House COVID-19 response team. He says vaccinations of large numbers of staff will slow the spread of infection.
”Employers who have more than 100 employees have more of a reason to get vaccinated. That’s going to reach about 80 to 100,000,000 Americans.”
A White House spokesperson told Action News Jax the vaccine mandate isn’t a “hard rule” — businesses can opt-out by testing employees once a week.
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