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Fla. ‘vaccine passport’ probes target library, Harry Styles concert, counterter­rorism squad

- By Austin Fuller

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida is investigat­ing potential violators of its COVID “vaccine passport” law that include a Harry Styles concert in Orlando, a Major League Baseball team, businesses, and government agencies, among them a public library and an FDLE counterter­rorism unit.

A list of 120 cases “under review” by the state Department of Health was released because of a public records request from the Orlando Sentinel first filed in September. The health department complied after a lawyer for the Sentinel contacted the agency’s general counsel.

In Central Florida, the list includes Orange County government, the Orange County Convention Center, Adventheal­th, Amway Center, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando Lowndes Shakespear­e Center, the House of Blues and Plaza Live.

Some cases involve specific performanc­es such as the entry listed “Amway Center — Harry Styles concert.” The singer performed Thursday at the Orlando arena.

Disney Cruise Lines, as well as other cruise ship companies, also made the list despite a federal court order that has prevented enforcemen­t of the law against Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Other government agencies include the Alachua County Public Library and the

Florida Department of Law Enforcemen­t’s counterter­rorism squad in Jacksonvil­le.

The FLDE Jacksonvil­le office on Monday referred all questions to the main office in Tallahasse­e, which had no comment.

Gov. Ron Desantis signed the controvers­ial law, which is being disputed in court. It prevents businesses and government­s from requiring customers to show proof of COVID vaccinatio­n. The health department is responsibl­e for enforcing the $5,000 per violation fine that went into effect Sept. 16.

Health department rules call for a notice of violation to be issued, which will include the right to a hearing before an administra­tive law judge. The fines would be due to the department within 30 days of a final order.

Orange County Mayor Jerry

Demings has told the department of health the county would “vigorously defend itself” after he received a letter threatenin­g fines to the county for mandating vaccines for its workforce. Demings himself is named on the list, along with government officials from Alachua and Leon counties.

Major large companies have mandated vaccines for employees, but not customers, including The Walt Disney Co. Despite that, only the company’s cruise line made the list.

Others on the list include large companies like AT&T and Northrop Grumman and tiny ones such as Skydive Deland.

The Miami Marlins are under investigat­ion, but no other major sports team made the list.

Despite being on the list, the cruise ship business is not expected to immediatel­y face fines after a federal judge granted a temporary injunction halting enforcemen­t in a lawsuit brought by Norwegian Cruise Line. The governor’s press secretary Christina Pushaw has said the state would not enforce the law for the cruise industry until a decision is made on the injunction.

The Florida law is in direct conflict with President Joe Biden’s order that companies with more than 100 employees require their workers to be vaccinated or face weekly testing for the coronaviru­s. Specific rules for that mandate have yet to be released.

 ?? Arturo Holmes/getty Images/tns ?? Harry Styles Performs On NBC’S “Today” at Rockefelle­r Plaza in 2020 in New York City.
Arturo Holmes/getty Images/tns Harry Styles Performs On NBC’S “Today” at Rockefelle­r Plaza in 2020 in New York City.

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