On Tuesday, June 15, California lifted many of its last remaining COVID-19 restrictions, but not all Golden Staters are happy with the price of getting back to the “new normal.” With many businesses now permitted to function in a pre-pandemic manner, one sticking point remains in terms of who can go about their daily lives without a face covering or mask.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state is working on an electronic “vaccine verification system” that will enable business owners to know who has received a jab and who hasn’t. He said:
“We’ll be doing something that provides you the opportunity, and we’ll announce this later this week, to have an electronic version of your paper version of vaccination.”
Quick to halt any misunderstanding, the belabored governor insisted that “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.” However, critics suggest that this “business-friendly” endeavor is a vaccine passport in all but name.
California companies now have a number of options in how they deal with customers post-opening. They can:
- Provide 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.
- Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.
- Require all patrons to wear masks.
Critics suggest that businesses keen to get back to usual trading are being encouraged to opt for the verification scheme, and this is what the California Department of Public Health is preparing.
In a recent statement, the governor said:
“As it relates to technology and the tools of technology, there are opportunities to make available different strategies to provide more secure, safe, and transparent form of verification. But again, this is voluntary. So I want to make this crystal clear before folks run with it—it’s become so politicized, almost everything in the state, nation—that there’s no mandates, no requirement, no passports in that respect.”
However, some organizations feel the governor doth protest too much. Newsom continued, saying, “But if a business, a private enterprise, with the freedom of choice and decision, that’s what free enterprise is about, makes a decision as it relates to a choice … we would look to help support those efforts, and modernize the opportunities. And we’ll be making some announcements very shortly in that space.”
Various civil rights groups suggest that the Golden State is presenting just an illusion of choice and that with certain mandates and restrictions still in place, businesses – to remain viable – are being pressured into adopting the vaccine verification scheme.
Speaking to The Epoch Times, Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said that what Newsom described amounts to a vaccine passport. “It’s violating federal law, but this governor doesn’t seem to mind by violating any law just does what he wants to until he’s held accountable,” Staver said.
The soon-to-be-released electronic verification scheme would replace the 3 x 4 cards that customers have been required to show. As an electronic version, it would allow businesses to either scan or verify through a QR code that the individual has, indeed, had the COVID-19 vaccination. Those who fail to produce verification (not including those who are exempt) may be required to wear a face mask to enter.
Lawsuits are expected to follow shortly.
Read more from Mark Angelides.