Ask for COVID vaccine proof, face a $5,000 fine in Florida

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Juan Carlos Guerrero, 62 holds his second shot reminder card as he speaks to a healthcare worker after having received a dose of the Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at the Miami-Dade County Tropical Park vaccination site in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida will start issuing $5,000 fines to businesses, schools and government agencies that require people to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill earlier this year that banned vaccine passports. The fines will start Sept. 16 if people are asked to show proof of a vaccine.

COVID-19 infections in Florida have skyrocketed over the summer as the state has been one of the hardest hit areas of the U.S. from the delta variant.

Florida officials have also begun to make good on threats to withhold funding from school districts that defy Gov. DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates despite a court ruling last week finding his order unconstitutional.

The state Department of Education announced Monday it has withheld an amount equal to monthly school board member salaries in Alachua and Broward counties. It says funds will continue to be withheld until the districts comply.

President Joe Biden has said if money was withheld, federal money would be used to cover any costs.

The Alachua and Broward districts are among 10 that require all students to wear masks unless they have a medical exemption in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

DeSantis says the districts are violating parental rights by not allowing a parent or legal guardian to opt out their child.

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