PHOENIX -- Gov. Doug Ducey is blocking government agencies and some businesses from requiring customers to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
In the latest use of his emergency powers Monday, the governor barred any state or local government from denying access to any building, business, facility, location, park or other space simply because that person has not provided proof of vaccination. The same executive order says vaccination proof also cannot be required by government agencies as a condition of receiving any permit, service, license or work authorization.
Gov. Ducey also said that any business that has a contract with the state to provide services to the public is similarly prohibited from demanding documentation of vaccine status of customers. But that covers only those firms with state contracts.
But the order as released Monday does allow all businesses to require that their own employees be vaccinated.
There are exceptions to the bar on demanding proof of vaccination.
For example, hospitals, nursing homes and other congregate care settings still can deny access to patients, residents, employees or visitors.
It also leaves undisturbed the current ability of schools, child care centers and universities to demand a student's vaccination records.
But those laws address things like measles and mumps. There is no current mention of other viruses, including COVID-19.
The issue of so-called "vaccine passports'' has become a political issue since the Biden administration said it was developing standards for people to prove they have been vaccinated against the virus.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said there will be no national mandate. But just the idea of it has raised fears that people might be asked for their papers.
It also comes nearly two weeks after the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an even broader plan that would prohibit any and all businesses from demanding proof of vaccination for customers, regardless of whether they get money from the state.
House Bill 2190, as currently written, also would bar businesses owners from making vaccination a requirement for employees. But Rep. Bret Roberts, R-Maricopa, said that verbiage is likely to be removed when the measure goes to the full Senate.
The order also comes as Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, is seeking a legal opinion from Attorney General Mark Brnovich on whether private companies can make vaccination proof a condition of being a patron or employees.
Dr. Cara Chrst, the state health director, said earlier this month she supports the idea of "vaccine passports'' but does not want them to be something that people would have to show to enter certain businesses.
"It would be nice to have an electronic format of some of that,'' the health director said. "But we're not looking here at the department at making that a requirement.''
Still, Dr. Christ said, this isn't a question for her agency.
"Business owners do have the ability to implement mitigation strategies,'' she said, ways to protect against the spread of the virus. And that is not limited to masks and social distancing.
"The residents of our state should not be required by the government to share their private medical information,' 'Gov. Ducey said in a prepared statement.
"While we strongly recommend all Arizonans get the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not mandated in our state -- and it never will be,'' he continued. "Vaccination is up to each individual, not the government.''