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Florida businesses that require customers be vaccinated to face fines

The new DOH rule goes into effect Sept. 16
Virus Outbreak-Viral Questions-Vaccine Passports
Posted at 2:06 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 16:06:52-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida businesses and governments requiring proof patrons have received a COVID-19 vaccine will soon face $5,000 fines, according to a new Florida Department of Health rule.

The Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 2006 earlier this year, banning businesses, governments, and schools from requiring “vaccine passports,” or proof that people seeking their services received a COVID-19 vaccine.

In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law. The legislation allowed the state’s Department of Health to issue fines “not to exceed $5,000 per violation.”

On Aug. 27, the department filed a rule that lays out how it will enforce the law. Businesses, governments, and schools will be fined $5,000 “per individual and separate violation,” the rule states.

According to the rule, violators will receive notice of their infraction and have a chance to appeal the fines. Once finalized, violators will have 30 days to pay.

The rule does not apply to a health care provider, a service provider licensed or certified under s. 393.17, part III of chapter 401, or part IV of chapter 468; or a provider with an active health care clinic exemption.

The new rule spurred criticism from Democrats, including one of DeSantis’ challengers in next year’s governor’s race, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

“Once again, Governor DeSantis is retaliating against Floridians who are trying to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19," said Fried. "This time, he’s fining businesses and individuals $5,000 per violation for requiring proof of vaccination. Let me be clear, this not only goes against common sense — it’s also an insult to the free market principles that he claims to champion. He’s made it abundantly clear that he’s more interested in retaliating against Floridians who are trying to do the right thing than he is in stopping the spread of COVID or supporting local businesses.”

64-8.001 Penalties for COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation Requirements.

(1) The Department will issue a notice of violation to any business entity, governmental entity or educational institution found in violation of Section 381.00316, F.S., prior to final agency action. Such notice will include hearing rights pursuant to Section 120.569, F.S.

  • A business entity, as defined in s. 768.38 to include any business operating in this state, may not require patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or postinfection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business operations in this state.
    • This subsection does not otherwise restrict businesses from instituting screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government-issued guidance to protect public health.
  • A governmental entity as defined in s. 768.38 may not require persons to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or postinfection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the governmental entity’s operations in this state.
    • This subsection does not otherwise restrict governmental entities from instituting screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government-issued guidance to protect public health.
  • An educational institution as defined in s. 768.38 may not require students or residents to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or postinfection recovery for attendance or enrollment, or to gain access to, entry upon, or service from such educational institution in this state.
    • This subsection does not otherwise restrict educational institutions from instituting screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government-issued guidance to protect public health.


(2) Each violation of Section 381.00316, F.S., will result in the imposition of a $5,000 fine per individual and separate violation against the business, governmental entity or the educational institution. Fines imposed are due and payable to the Department within 30 days of entry of the final order unless otherwise stated in the final order.

(3) This rule will be reviewed and repealed, modified, or renewed through the rulemaking process five years from the effective date.

Rulemaking Authority 381.00316(6) FS. Law Implemented 381.00316 FS. History–New 9-16-21.

The new rule goes into effect on September 16, 2021.