Florida companies will have to allow their workers to opt out of COVID-19 vaccination mandates after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a comprehensive legislative package Thursday to combat White House regulations against the coronavirus.
Republican DeSantis signed the laws in a ceremony alongside leaders of the GOP-controlled state Capitol and other state officials who said they were protecting people from burdensome federal immunization requirements.
“We are making sure that people have the right to earn a living, that people have the right to safeguards in their workplace, and that parents have safeguards to direct the upbringing of their children.”DeSantis said to applause.
The signing ceremony concluded an extraordinary three-day legislative session convened by DeSantis, part of his campaign against the White House orders to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The governor, who is running for re-election and has a possible presidential candidacy in mind in 2024, has become one of the best-known Republicans in the country for his opposition to lockdowns and other measures against the virus.
Florida’s new law prevents companies from imposing the obligation to get vaccinated, unless they allow workers to choose not to do so for medical reasons, religious beliefs, immunity acquired from a previous infection, a commitment to perform periodic diagnostic tests, or an agreement to wear protective equipment. The state health department, headed by Joseph Ladapo – who is also Florida’s director of public health and opposes the mandates – will have the authority to define the standards that merit exceptions.
“This is completely opposed to this belief that some of our leaders have been trying to push, that you don’t control your body, that your body belongs to Dr. (Anthony) Fauci, and that he decides what you do with your body, what you put on your face, what your children can do, “Ladapo said of the law. Fauci is President Joe Biden‘s chief medical adviser.
The bill also includes fines for companies that fire a worker without allowing exemptions.