California may become the first U.S. state to impose mandatory “proof of vaccination” —or vaccine passports— for entry into enclosed premises as a result of legislation being pushed by Democrats.
The draft bill, obtained exclusively by Ek American, stipulates that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Californians will be required to present proof that they are fully vaccinated to enter any establishment or business that is closed such as movie theaters, stadiums, restaurants, gyms, hotels or bars. In addition, the legislation would require employees to present the same proof of vaccination or, failing that, to be tested by COVID-19 on a weekly basis.
The bill, titled AB 455, was introduced to the California legislature by Democrats Buffy Wicks, representing the 15th District; Evan Low, representing California’s 28th Assembly District; and Assemblywoman Akilah Webere, representing the 79th District.
The bill’s primary co-authors are: State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), District 6 Senator Richard Pan and Senator Scott Wiener who represents the 11th District.
It is unclear whether the bill will be introduced this year, as last Friday Democrats met to assess when to introduce this legislature, whether now, with less than three weeks left in the legislative session, or in January of next year, according to information from Fox 40.
What does the legislature say?
According to the draft, “The Legislature finds and declares” the following considerations:
“On March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in California due to the threat posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
“On December 11, 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the first emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, allowing the vaccine to be distributed in the United States. Since then, the FDA has authorized two additional vaccines for emergency use, the Moderna vaccine and the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.”
It then goes on to say that “California is one of the most populous states in the nation, has the fifth largest economy in the world, and the largest economy in the United States” and that “COVID-19 has already killed more than 64,000 people in California, and poses a grave threat to the people of this state and to the state economy as a whole.”
In addition, the draft notes that “California continues to experience high rates of COVID-19 infections, despite efforts to limit the spread of the virus” and that “health experts have identified indoor spaces as potential COVID-19 infection hotspots.”
So much for the Legislature explaining a context —rather summarized— about the pandemic to then give the orders about vaccination testing.
“The Legislature” says that establishing “new proof-of-vaccination requirements for public establishments, as defined, and employment, is reasonable and necessary to address this monumental public health crisis and to protect the public health and well-being of the people of California.”
The bill also says a section will be added to the civil code so that “notwithstanding any other law,” an establishment may require persons seeking to enter the premises to provide proof of vaccination to be shown “to an authorized employee or agent of the establishment.”
What are “establishments” and what are “immunization tests”?
The legislature explains that establishments are all those enclosed businesses, which serve guests, serve food or beverages, and “any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium, gym, spa, or other place of exhibition or entertainment.”
However, there is one exception: “‘establishment’ does not include a place where food is served exclusively for takeout, curbside pickup, or consumption at another location and is not open to the public.”
Also, a proof of vaccination is “a valid documentation of the person’s COVID-19 vaccination record, which may be their vaccine card or a copy or a digital version thereof, as provided by their health care provider, the State Department of Public Health, or another state or federal agency.”
Vaccination will not be required for children because they are ineligible “to receive a COVID-19 vaccination due to age” and also for those who cannot “receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to a medical condition or disability that precludes the person from receiving a vaccination, subject to verification thereof, and in compliance with state and federal law, including the reasonable accommodation provisions of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.”
Reactions against the bill
The content of the legislation has not yet been released, however, following rumors that Democrats will introduce the bill, some Republicans in the state have already reacted against it, warning that they will be opposing it.
“I will fight in every way I can to stop AB 455, the “gut and amend” bill requiring vaccination papers to enter a place of business. This is not who we are as a state or a country. Enough,” tweeted Rep. Kevin Kiley.
“We are getting many calls about AB 455. Tomorrow morning we will know if the proposed amendments have been made. The fact that this is being talked about is insane. This would be a job killer for so many businesses and infringe upon people’s rights,” Supervisor Jim Desmond said, meanwhile.
Anthony Cabassa, journalist and correspondent for El American, contributed to this article.