Georgia Governor signs executive order banning state entities from requiring Covid-19 vaccine passports

Brian Kemp has joined the ranks of Republican governors opposing so-called vaccine passports, saying state entities won't be allowed to demand proof of Covid-19 inoculation status.

Kemp signed an executive order on Tuesday that blocks state government agencies, service providers and public schools from requiring vaccine passports. "While I continue to urge all Georgians to get vaccinated so we continue our momentum of putting the Covid-19 pandemic in the rearview, vaccination is a personal decision between each citizen and a medical professional – not the state government," the governor said.

The order bans all state entities from requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination as a condition to enter a property, conduct business with an agency, receive services, be employed or enjoy any other rights or privileges. It also prohibits vaccine passports being required for entry into Georgia – a provision that could affect airlines and other transportation providers – and state agencies can't treat employees differently based on vaccination status.

Kemp stopped short of blocking private-sector businesses from requiring vaccine passports, but he ordered that no state health data be shared with public or private entities to facilitate a passport program.

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Kemp noted that citizens aren't required by law to be vaccinated, and their vaccination records are private medical information. A vaccine passport program would infringe individual liberties and force Georgians to disclose their private medical information, he said.

Two of Georgia's neighbors, Florida and Alabama, are among the GOP-led states that have enacted laws banning use of vaccine passports by both government entities and businesses. Texas also has such a ban, while Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds last week signed legislation that withholds state grants and contracts from businesses and local governments that require residents to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

Several other states, such as Arizona, Idaho and Utah, have blocked government entities from requiring vaccine passports. Like Georgia's Kemp, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey enacted his passport ban by executive order. A bill that would prohibit businesses from requiring proof of vaccination status failed to pass last week in the Arizona House.

For Kemp, Tuesday's order may help rehabilitate his standing among conservative voters, many of whom were angered when he declined to support former President Trump's claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. He signed into law controversial new voting rules in March and spoke out against use of critical race theory in education last week. Earlier this month, he toured parts of the US-Mexico border to highlight the illegal immigration crisis.

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