Florida joins go well with in opposition to vaccine mandate for Gainesville metropolis workers

It didn’t take lengthy for the state to take motion after Gov. Ron DeSantis affirmed Monday that below a brand new state legislation, Florida will wonderful native governments $5,000 for every worker required to be vaccinated, threatening some municipalities with punitive levies of “tens of millions and tens of millions of {dollars}.”

“We’re not going to let individuals get fired due to the vaccine mandate,” DeSantis mentioned in Alachua County the place the town of Gainesville is requiring all its staff get vaccinated as a situation of employment.

“You don’t simply solid apart individuals who have been serving faithfully over this concern, over what’s mainly a private selection over their particular person well being,” the governor mentioned.

Along with Gainesville, Orange and Leon counties have handed necessary vaccine insurance policies for workers with exemptions for non secular or medical causes. Different municipalities, akin to Miami-Dade Nation and the town of Tampa, have adopted insurance policies that require vaccination or weekly assessments for the unvaccinated.

Greater than 200 Gainesville workers, together with police and firefighters, have sued the town, which is requiring they be vaccinated by the top of September or lose their jobs.

Many have been readily available to listen to DeSantis, state Chief Monetary Officer Jimmy Patronis and Florida Lawyer Normal Ashley Moody say the state would be a part of their authorized motion.

“You now have the lawyer normal within the state of Florida in your nook,” Moody mentioned, asserting she’d filed an amicus transient Monday supporting their go well with, contending the requirement was “illegal” below Senate Invoice 2006 , which bans companies from requiring “vaccine passports” for patrons or mandating vaccinations for workers with every violation drawing a $5,000 wonderful.

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Underneath a newly adopted state Division of Well being (DOH) rule, SB 2006’s penalties will be levied starting Thursday.

“Now we have by no means given (native governments) that energy to do one thing like this,” Moody mentioned. “It’s illegal. It’s unconscionable that we might belief these of us to throw themselves in entrance of a bullet for different individuals, however we don’t belief them to decide for their very own security. It’s unconscionable.”

Moody didn’t deal with related vaccine mandates in Orange and Leon counties however DeSantis did, noting with greater than 8,000 workers, Orange County’s coverage below SB 2006 may value Central Florida taxpayers “tens of millions and tens of millions of {dollars} probably in fines.”

Gainesville’s coverage goes in opposition to “the science,” he mentioned, as a result of it doesn’t embrace provisions for many who’ve had COVID and developed pure antibodies to the virus.

“Lots of them have already had COVID, OK?” DeSantis mentioned. “They’ve had COVID, they’ve recovered, and most of them — properly, those who’ve recovered — have very sturdy immunity.”

Gainesville spokeswoman Shelby Taylor advised the Tampa Bay Occasions that the town is standing by its coverage and can prevail in courtroom.

“The well being, security and welfare of our metropolis’s workforce and people we serve is our primary precedence,” Taylor mentioned. “The town has taken the steps vital to attain that precedence and stand by that call. It’s our perception that as an employer, we retain the proper and duty to require vaccinations as a situation of employment.”

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How SB 2006 applies to personal companies within the wake of a federal decide’s August ruling that it can’t be imposed on cruise ships stays unsure.

U.S. District Decide Kathleen Williams decided as a result of cruise ships are federally regulated, Florida can’t implement the state prohibition in opposition to necessary vaccination mandates for patrons and staff on them.

However Williams didn’t enjoin the state from imposing SB 2006 on land-based companies, akin to Walt Disney World, which is requiring all union workers be vaccinated by Oct. 22.

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