Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday warned city and county officials in his state that if they require any employee to have a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment they would face a $5,000 fine for each violation.
“If a government agency in the state of Florida forces a vaccine as a condition of employment, that violates Florida law and you will face a $5,000 fine for every single violation,” DeSantis said at a press conference.
In July, DeSantis banned school systems from implementing mask mandates for anyone on campus. Several school districts have ignored the law and some county education administrators have had their pay suspended over the issue.
In August, the Florida Department of Health announced that businesses, government agencies and schools will be fined $5,000 “per individual and separate violation,” if they ask for proof that a person has been vaccinated.
Those who violate the rule will be issued a notice of the infraction and have a chance to appeal the fine, according to the FDH. If the appeal fails, the fine must be paid within 30 days.
Several Orange County firefighters joined DeSantis at the press conference on Monday. The firefighters are among nearly 3,500 union personnel who have been negotiating with Orange County to avoid being forced to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
“It could be a lot of money, yes, no question about it,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said. “At the end of the day, it is our goal to protect the people in our greater community, to keep them safe, which is a fundamental role of government.”
DeSantis’ announcement comes after an announcement last week by President Joe Biden that all companies with more than 100 employees would be forced to mandate the vaccine for their workers. In addition, Biden said all federal employees and all those who have contracts with the federal government must also be vaccinated.
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