Republican Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon issued a directive Friday to block state agencies from establishing the use of vaccine passports, which some places in the U.S. may require for people to gather in large sporting and entertainment events.
Under the directive, state agencies and commissions are ordered to “provide full access to state spaces and state services, regardless of a constituent’s COVID-19 vaccination status.”
“Vaccine passport programs have the potential to politicize a decision that should not be politicized,” Gordon said in a statement. “They would divide our citizens at a time when unity in fighting the virus is essential, and harm those who are medically unable to receive the vaccine. While I strongly encourage Wyomingites over the age of 16 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, it is a personal choice based upon personal circumstances.”
Gordon took action after a resolution stalled that would have set out a “vaccine bill of rights.” Introduced in the State House in March, the resolution pledged to “protect [Wyoming’s] citizens against unconstitutional and medically irresponsible COVID-19 vaccine mandates.”
“‘[V]accine passports,’ ‘digital health IDs’ and other such required documentation pose substantial risks to personal privacy and equal treatment under the law for all citizens of Wyoming and the United States generally,” the resolution said.
But some Democratic-run states have been moving forward with vaccine passports or documents that will work the same way. In March, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new program that will allow New Yorkers to show a COVID-19 “passport” to enter sports arenas, theaters, or other businesses.
The plan establishes an “Excelsior Pass” that will use secure technology to prove a state resident has been vaccinated against COVID-19 or has had a recent negative test. Sites included in the rollout plan include Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center, both sports and entertainment venues.
“As we begin reopening the valves on different sectors of our economy, we are putting guidelines in place to ensure individuals attending events involving larger gatherings have tested negative for COVID or have been vaccinated to avoid an outbreak of the virus. The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal,” Cuomo said.
But Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, on the other hand, has moved to ban the passports in his own state.
“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “You want to go to a movie theater, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a game, a theme park? No. So we’re not supportive of that.”
“We always said we wanted to provide it for all but mandate it for none,” DeSantis said. “And that was something that, while it was advised to take particularly if you’re vulnerable, we were not going to force you to do it.”
This article has been revised for clarity.