Businesses, schools and governmental entities in Florida that require people to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will soon face a hefty fine, according to a new rule by the state's Department of Health.
The rule, which was finalized on Friday and goes into effect on Sept. 16, states that those who require customers or members to provide vaccination documentation will be issued a "$5,000 fine per individual and separate violation."
Violators can choose to appeal their fines, the rule says, though they will have 30 days to pay once it is finalized.
In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning businesses, schools and governmental entities from requiring proof of vaccination. The statute also allows the state's health department to impose a fine that does "not to exceed $5,000 per violation" on those who violate the ban.
"This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses," the Republican lawmaker, 42, said in a statement at the time. "In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision."
In addition to banning COVID-19 vaccinations in schools, DeSantis signed an executive order last month prohibiting school boards from implementing mask mandates in the new academic year.
He has since threatened to withhold pay of school district employees who do not abide by the updated policy.
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COVID-19 numbers have been increasing across the United States due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, which is now the most common strain in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unvaccinated individuals make up the large majority of new cases and hospitalizations.
As of Wednesday, 52.6 percent (174.6 million) of the United States populace is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC, while 61.9 percent (205.5 million) have received at least one dose.
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