(CNS News) -- Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law on Monday that prohibits private businesses, schools, and government offices from requiring citizens to show proof of vaccination against COVID, a so-called vaccine passport. In addition, the new law prohibits local governments from arbitrarily imposing lockdowns or closing the schools.
“Over the last year we’ve avoided protracted lockdowns and school closures in Florida because I have refused to take the same approach as other lockdown Governors," said Gov. DeSantis in a press release on Monday. "This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses.
“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," said DeSantis. "I’d like to thank President Simpson, Speaker Sprowls and the Florida Legislature for getting this legislation across the finish line.”
The final version of the legislation, SB 2006, passed in the Florida Senate, 23-15, and in the Florida House, 78-36, on April 29.
“While many states around the country are just now beginning to re-open, under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida has been responsibly opening back up over the last year," said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R).
"Our economy is bouncing back stronger than anyone could have imagined as more and more people flee high tax, high regulation states and chose the freedom we have here in Florida," said Simpson.
“This legislation strikes the appropriate balance between protecting one’s safety and one’s personal liberty,” said House Representative Tom Leek.
As for a "vaccine passport," the new law says that any business operating in Florida "may not require patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business operations in this state."
The same applies to all government offices in the state, such as the DMV or the Post Office, and to the schools. Any educational institution "may not require students or residents to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery for attendance or enrollment, or to gain access to, entry upon, or service from such educational institution in this state."
"SB 2006 will ensure that neither the state nor local governments can close businesses or keep students out of in-person instruction at Florida schools, except for hurricane emergencies, and caps all local emergency at seven-day increments," reads the governor's press release.
"The legislation also allows the Governor of Florida to invalidate a local emergency order if it unnecessarily restricts individual rights or liberties," according to the press release.