Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Tuesday prohibiting state agencies, state service providers and state properties from requiring Covid-19 vaccine passports, the governor’s office said.
Under the “Prohibition of Covid-19 Vaccine Passports” executive order, a vaccine passport will not be required for entry into the state of Georgia. The order also says that state employers should not have different rules for employees based on vaccination status unless rules are implemented using an honor-code system.
Kemp’s announcement marks the most recent of a slew of restrictions on Covid-19 passports codified by Republican governors as growing vaccine levels have facilitated a return to normal.
“While I continue to urge all Georgians to get vaccinated so we continue our momentum in putting the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview, vaccination is a personal decision between each citizen and a medical professional – not state government,” Kemp, a Republican, said in a statement.
Tuesday’s executive order makes clear that data held by the Georgia Department of Public Health and its immunization system will not be used by any public or private entity for a vaccine passport program, the release stated.
Some health experts argue that such proof of vaccination can be the ticket back to normalcy, saying it could reward people for getting vaccinated by allowing them into a crowded concert or ballgame, as well as offer the vaccinated peace of mind that the person next to them has been immunized, too.
But critics have stressed privacy concerns and characterized vaccine passports as an overreach by authorities.
The Georgia measure comes on the heels of Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signing a bill Monday banning the use of so-called vaccine passports in her state. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has also signed legislation banning vaccine passports, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order prohibiting government-mandated proof of inoculation.
On the national level, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in March there will be “no centralized universal federal vaccinations database, and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” adding that “we want to encourage an open marketplace with a variety of private sector companies and nonprofit coalitions developing solutions.”