According to the governor's order signed April 20, a "state agency, department, board, commission or other executive branch entity or official under the direct control of the governor" cannot mandate that people present proof of COVID-19 vaccination before doing business with the government. The order also prohibits the same from requiring "a private business to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine passport" before transactions can be done.
If in case the offices mentioned in Noem's order already have such policies in place, they are instructed to "immediately alter, suspend or rescind" prior mandates that conflict with the April 20 executive order. However, the mandate will not impact health facilities requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Furthermore, the order does not encompass "any documentation requirements necessary for the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine."
Noem said: "Since the start of the [COVID-19] pandemic, we have provided the people of South Dakota with up-to-date science, facts and data, and then trusted them to exercise their personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones. We've resisted government mandates, and our state is stronger for it."
The Mount Rushmore State's governor adopted a voluntary approach on the matter of COVID-19 immunization. "I encourage all South Dakotans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but we are not going to mandate any such activity," Noem said. "And we are not going to restrict South Dakotans' exercise of their freedoms with un-American policies like vaccine passports."
A day before Noem signed her executive order, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a similar mandate. The April 19 executive order by Ducey also prohibits the state government and local authorities from requiring people to show proof of vaccination before entering an area or receiving a service. It also applies to businesses receiving funding from the Grand Canyon State contracted to provide services to the general public.
Ducey said in a statement: "The residents of our state should not be required by the government to share their private medical information. While we strongly recommend all Arizonans get the COVID-19 vaccine, it's not mandated in our state – and it never will be. Vaccination is up to each individual, not the government."
Almost two weeks before Ducey and Noem implemented orders against vaccine passports, Texas shot down any moves to make these compulsory. Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on April 6 that prohibited state agencies, local governments and entities receiving public funding from requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
The Lone Star State's governor said in a video announcing the order: "Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal health information just to go about their daily lives. That is why I have issued an executive order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health – and we will do so without treading on Texans' personal freedoms."
Abbott added that such vaccinations "are always voluntary and never forced."
The seeds of the anti-vaccine passport movement were planted in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis's executive order signed on April 2 covered both private businesses and government agencies – without any exceptions. Similar orders by other states appeared to exclude private establishments from such bans.
According to the order, "requiring so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination."
The mandate echoed the Florida governor's sentiments on compulsory vaccination passports, which he expressed during a March 30 press conference. "It's completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of [vaccination] to just simply be able to participate in normal society," he said.
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