Q&A Of The Day – Will Florida’s Ban on Vaccine Passports Hurt The Economy?

Q&A Of The Day – Will Florida’s Ban on Vaccine Passports Hurt The Economy?

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio 

Today’s entry: Brian, I wanted to get your thoughts regarding the vaccine passport law Governor DeSantis recently signed. The discussions I’ve heard seem to be centered around philosophical considerations more than economic concerns. The CDC’s cruise industry standards stand in conflict with the policy and what about tourists? Is it possible some tourists will stay away from Florida because they’re used to mandates and may be uncomfortable that we don’t have them any longer? 

Bottom Line: It’s a great question without a clear answer but that can be addressed from a few different angles. The first being... Who wants mandatory passports generally? The answer in short is that most Americans do while a majority of Floridians don’t. Let’s start there... According to a recent Florida Trend survey by a 47% to 44% margin Floridians agree with Governor DeSantis’s ban on vaccine passports. So, DeSantis’s approach is the preferred one among his constituents by a slim margin. Broadly, that’s not the case. 

As you see unemployment rates that are literally double ours in other large states like California and New York, it’s easy to forget what’s happening outside of our big oasis with an open economy and now no government induced mandated policy. It’s odd to me that some people would prefer to error on the side of lockdown related policies but that’s the case and holds true with the preference of most Americans with Gallup’s recent polling showing 57% of Americans are desirous of vaccine passports. Different strokes for different folks. But here’s what we don’t know. How many of the 57% of non-Floridians would not make a trip to Florida because we don’t have one? That’s unquantified but could potentially be a factor for some, addressing the point of your question. 

In January, Traveler identified Florida as 2nd most desired location for Americans to travel this year – with it being the top domestic option. Are there some people potentially so strident in their desire for a vaccine passport that they opt not to come to Florida? Probably, but I wouldn’t suspect it’d be enough to be highly measurable. Moreover, there are likely to be more unvaccinated people who want access that might otherwise be locked out of activities in our state. In this regard the ban on passports would likely provide a net economic benefit. The bigger issue that you referenced is the cruise industry and that is a dynamic which must be dealt with... Because the cruise industry operates under federal jurisdiction but out of Florida’s ports – both sets of policies come into play. The CDC’s recent edict that 95% of cruise passengers must be vaccinated is directly at odds with Florida’s current order and new law which kicks in July 1st. So, what happens from here?

Currently being discussed by the Florida Seaport and Economic and Transportation Development Council, is an idea to petition the DeSantis administration to exempt the cruise industry. You could see where conceptually that could be done without cries of double-standards given the uniqueness of the industry, however there are questions that would arise. First, would Governor DeSantis being willing to compromise for the industry given his strong stance against vaccine passports? Second, would it even be possible? Right now, the policy stands through executive order. That would allow the governor to make the exception at any time on his own. However, with the new law kicking in on July 1st, would he have the legal authority to do so? That’s unknown unless settled in the courts. 

The answer as to if the ban on vaccine passports will hurt Florida’s economy remains unquantified with multiple moving pieces. It’s a story I’ll track going forward. 

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