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'Vaccine passports' ban passes final vote

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MONTGOMERY — A bill that would prohibit the issuance of state or local government “vaccine passports” passed its final vote on Monday.

Senate Bill 267 from Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Rep. Paul Lee, R-Dothan, says state and local governments “may not require an individual to receive an immunization or present documentation of an immunization as a condition for receiving any government benefit or service or for entry into a government building…”

The final vote on the bill in the House was 76-16 and fell along party lines. The Senate then concurred with the changes unanimously with no discussion.

The bill also says an entity or individual doing business in Alabama can’t refuse to provide goods or services or refuse admission or entry to anyone based on their immunization status or lack of documentation.

An amendment passed on the House floor that clarified that schools could not require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination but does not interfere with any vaccinations that were required by schools and institutes of higher education before January 1, 2021.

Lee said the bill doesn’t prevent any business or institution from requiring masks or other safety precautions for customers in their establishments.

The bill does not provide any criminal penalties for those who violate the law.

Multiple Democratic members spoke against the bill during discussion saying that the bill would put people’s health at risk especially while a majority of the state still hasn’t been vaccinated yet.

“We have so many laws on the book, intended to protect the public, why can’t we protect the public when it comes to COVID,” Rep. Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro, said on Monday.

Several other Republican-led states have passed similar measures recently.

Some other countries are establishing national databases to allow vaccinated people to resume normal activities, the Associated Press has reported. The White House says it won’t back such a system in the U.S.