TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – A Florida Department of Health rule that took effect Thursday imposes $5,000 fines on businesses, governments and educational institutions that require proof of a vaccine to enter their premises.
There is also concern about a looming federal rule that could do just the opposite.
Any business or government in Florida that requires proof of vaccination to enter now faces a $5,000 fine for each person they ask.
Some Florida restaurants say that’s the last thing they want to do.
“Asking a hostess at the hostess desk to start asking the customer when they are coming in to have dinner to see their private medical information, and that’s where we don’t feel its appropriate,” said Carol Dover, President of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
State Representative Anna Eskamani was one of 36 no votes in the House. She worries tourism won’t fully rebound unless people feel safe.
“Having vaccine requirements around some of these more luxury experiences, if you will, will help insure the events actually happen,” said Eskamani.
As written, the legislation allows a fine of up to $5,000, but in its new rule, the Department of Health rule sets it at the maximum.
Restaurants are also concerned by a coming federal rule requiring employers of 100 or more to require vaccines or negative tests.
The problem for many restaurants is they are already short-staffed.
“Members of ours are really panicking over this because they might have 110 employees, but they have more than ten employees telling them if you do that, we’re not coming to work,” said Dover.
The legislation also prohibits a vaccine from being required to enter a public building.
Several county governments are requiring their employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 1, meanwhile, Gov. DeSantis is threatening fines.
Any business that is fined will have the right to an administrative appeal.
So far it remains unclear whether the Department of Health will set up a tip line for complaints. A request for information went unanswered.