GrayRobinson COVID-19 Task Force E-lert: Businesses, Governmental Entities, and Educational Institutions Beware – Comply with New COVID-19 Documentation Restrictions or Face a Significant Fine

By: Matthew A. Bowles, Associate

Florida – May 4, 2021 – On May 3, 2021, Governor DeSantis signed SB 2006 (codified as Sec. 381.00316, Florida Statutes) into law which prohibits business entities, governmental entities, and educational institutions (public and private) from requiring certain individuals from producing documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery. SB 2006 becomes effective on July 1, 2021. Significantly, the new law varies in application based on the foregoing classification of entity. Accordingly, businesses, government entities, and schools must ensure compliance with the law to avoid significant fines.

Application of SB 2006 By Type of Entity

Business Entities

  • SB 2006 defines the term “business entity” as any form of corporation, partnership, association, cooperative, joint venture, business trust, or sole proprietorship that conducts business in Florida.
    • The term also includes charitable organizations and corporations not for profit.
  • The law prohibits a business entity from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery in order to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business.
    • The law does not restrict screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government issued guidance.
  • Notably, the law does not appear to impact a business entity’s ability to mandate vaccines for its employees.

Governmental Entities

  • SB 2006 defines the term “governmental entity” as the state or any political subdivision thereof, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government; the independent establishments of the state, counties, municipalities, districts, authorities, boards, or commissions; or any agencies that are subject to Chapter 286, Florida Statutes (Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law).
  • The law prohibits a governmental entity from requiring a person to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery in order to gain access to, entry upon, or services from the governmental entity’s operations.
    • The law does not restrict screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government issued guidance.
  • Significantly, the restrictions appear to apply to a governmental entity’s employees.
    • Accordingly, governmental entities may not require employees to provide documentation certifying  COVID-19 vaccination or documented proof of employee COVID-19 recovery under the law unless the governmental entity is exempted from such requirements pursuant to one of the exemptions set forth below.

Educational Institution 

  • SB 2006 defines the term “educational institution” as a school, including a preschool, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, secondary school, career center, or postsecondary school, whether public or nonpublic.
  • The law prohibits an educational institution from requiring 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.
    • The law does not restrict screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government issued guidance.
  • Educational institutions which also meet the definition of a “governmental entity” must comply with the prohibitions set forth for government entities as well.

Exemptions 

  • SB 2006 does not apply to the following:
    • “Health Care Provider” as defined under Sec. 68.38(2)(e), Florida Statutes;
    • A service provider licensed or certified under s. 393.17, part III of chapter 401, or part IV of Ch. 468, Florida Statutes; or
    • A provider with an active health care clinic exemption under Sec. 400.9935, Florida Statutes.

Penalties 

  • An entity covered by SB 2006 is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 per violation.

SB 2006 authorizes the Florida Department of Health to adopt rules in order to implement this law. We will continue monitoring for the Department’s adoption of such rules as well as COVID-19 related updates and circulate same as pertinent updates become available.