Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law earlier this year, which prohibited requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination and with fines going into effect on Sept. 16. The fines can be appealed, but after a fine is decided, it must be paid within 30 days.
“Governor DeSantis is making decisions based on empirical evidence, upholding the rule of law and protecting all Floridians’ individual rights,” the governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, told WFLA. “Defending individual rights from unjustified overreach, whether by government or business, is a legitimate use of state executive power.”
She added, “allowing businesses and educational institutions to require vaccine passports as a condition of entry or service would create a two-tiered society, which is unfair.”
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried—who is a Democrat and hoping to run against DeSantis for governor next year— also reacted to the news.
“Governor DeSantis is retaliating against Floridians who are trying to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19,” she said in a statement. “This not only goes against common sense — it’s also an insult to the free market principles that he claims to champion.”
“(DeSantis) has made it abundantly clear that he’s more interested in getting revenge against Floridians who are trying to do the right thing than he is in stopping the spread of COVID or supporting our local businesses.”
Additionally, it’s worth noting that cases in Florida have worsened to the point that the state has nearly run out of ICU beds. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 15,000 patients are currently hospitalized in the state, a drastic surge from 1,800 in June.