Many companies have welcomed Florida’s “open for business” policies regarding COVID-19. But one bead store in Sarasota says a state law against requiring proof of vaccination for customers makes operating impossible.
Bead Abode, a Sarasota retailer that sells beads and craft supplies, is suing the state surgeon general as the head of the Florida Department of Health over a statute that prevents businesses from asking customers to prove that they’re vaccinated before they enter a store.
Under the statute, which Bead Abode argues is unconstitutional, businesses are not allowed to ask customers to provide proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 in order to walk into a business or a retail store. The penalty for violating the statute is a fine of up to $5,000.
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In its lawsuit, Bead Abode argues that because of its “reputation and expectation for health and safety,” and because its classes can be two hours long and involve close contact between customers, a requirement that customers be vaccinated makes sense.
As legal basis for its claim, Bead Abode cited a recent decision by the Southern District of Florida in a case involving Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and the state surgeon general. In that case, which dealt with the same statute as the Bead Abode suit, U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams allowed Norwegian to move forward with its plan to require proof of vaccination for its guests. The decision is under appeal.
“Despite a well-reasoned and detailed opinion as to why the statute in question is likely unconstitutional, defendant has chosen to proceed with rulemaking and is set to begin enforcement on Sept. 16, 2021,” the Bead Abode lawsuit reads.
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Neither the company nor the Florida Department of Health responded to requests for comment from the Herald-Tribune.
Bead Abode originally shut down on March 14, 2020 as the pandemic reached Florida and has been operating online-only since then.
The company made the decision to permanently close its store at Palmer Crossing Circle because of the pandemic, but found a new location on Cattlemen Road which it plans to open “soon,” according to its website.
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