This is a good news/bad news story coming from the tumultuous state of California. On the bright side, California is opening up again. Restaurants and small businesses have some hope that survival may just be possible. In contrast, some dark days may be looming as Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom discussed the rollout of an upcoming “vaccine verification” system.
The relief from the previous COVID-19 restrictions took effect on June 15. It will make life essentially return to normal in almost every situation…but it will likely only be for vaccinated people, according to ABC-7.
“Fully vaccinated people will be allowed to do pretty much everything they were doing before the pandemic without needing to wear a mask. That includes grocery shopping, going to the gym, drinking at a bar, seeing a movie, or going to church,” ABC-7 reported.
Even people who are vaccinated will still need to wear masks in hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters while traveling and if they are indoors at K-12 schools, the news agency noted.
Tomás J. Aragón, M.D., Dr.P.H, the California Public Health Officer, said that though Californians “have made significant progress in vaccinating individuals and reducing community transmission thanks to the steps taken by Californians,” COVID-19 is still a public health concern.
“We must remain vigilant against variants of the disease especially given high levels of transmission in other parts of the world and due to the possibility of vaccine escape,” Aragón declared.
The updated guidance for businesses and vendors explains that in places where unvaccinated people are the only ones required to wear masks, “businesses, venue operators or hosts may choose to give information to all patrons, guests and attendees regarding vaccination requirements and allow vaccinated individuals to self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry.”
Here’s where it gets interesting…businesses may also “Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask” and “require all patrons to wear masks.”
Governor Newsom went on to say that the state is near to releasing an electronic system that will let businesses verify that patrons have been vaccinated against COVID-19, as reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune.
“We would look to help support those efforts and modernize the opportunities, and we’ll be making some announcements very shortly in that space,” Newsom said.
“There is no mandate, no requirement, no passport,” Newsom said. He maintained that adding that the guidelines permit companies to incorporate the system or decline to use it without being punished.
“It’s not a passport, it’s not a requirement, it’s just the ability now to have an electronic version of that paper version, so you’ll hear more about that in the next couple of days,” he said.
Vaccine passports is a topic filled with controversy in several states. And some have banned them completely.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced a bill to ban the federal government from creating vaccine passports. Cruz said that the bill “also prohibits the federal government from being able to work with third parties to establish immunization passports.”
Cruz continued saying that “Americans shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their immunization status, whether that is at work or in everyday life.”
“Americans have a well-established right to privacy that any mandated” immunization passport “would destroy,” Cruz said. And the Texas senator added that it “would be discriminatory against people who, for whatever reason, do not get it.”
The California governor can play with semantics, but it sure looks like he is sliding a vaccination passport into position at the same time most of the state is experiencing the joy of some new freedoms.