Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday announced the state will fine municipal governments with COVID-19 vaccine mandates for their employees. This could run into the millions of dollars since they will be fined $5,000 for each employee affected by the mandates.
The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that during a Monday news conference in Alachua County, DeSantis vowed to fight that city’s requirement that employees be vaccinated by the end of the month or be fired.
“We are not going to let people get fired because of the vaccine mandate,” DeSantis said. “You don’t just cast aside people who have been serving faithfully over this issue, over what’s basically a personal choice over their individual health.”
DeSantis called the national and local rules “ridiculous, unforeseen expansions of power” and argued that “thousands of thousands” of Floridians would be “coerced out of a job through government power.”
Under Florida state law, neither businesses nor local governments can require proof of vaccination “to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the governmental entity’s operations.”
However, WFLA reports that the law does not cover vaccine mandates for workers, and it’s not clear how the fines will be enforced. It is also not clear how the state’s fines will affect private businesses, such as cruise lines or Walt Disney World, but a representative for DeSantis said, “Regarding private businesses, we’re looking at all legal options to protect the rights of employees.”
False claims are still being spread
According to Insider, Darris Friend, a city employee in Gainesville, which is requiring employees to be vaccinated, spoke at the DeSantis news conference, claiming the coronavirus vaccine “changes your RNA.”
“The vaccine changes your RNA, so, for me, that’s a problem,” Mr. Friend said. “They’re taking away our freedom and liberty, little by little. They’re using the vaccine for cover. Last year, they took away our religious rights, they’re not defending our freedom of speech, and this is just one way to take us to the next step.”
However, DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske, told Insider the governor “has never said the vaccine changes your RNA, nor is that his opinion.” DeSantis was vaccinated using the Johnson&Johnson vaccine.