Cornell creates different gathering rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated persons


Now that Alachua County’s 7-day-average positivity rate for COVID-19 tests has been 2.09% or below since February 25, there are less than 50 people with COVID-19 in county hospitals, 75% of those 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the vaccine is available to everyone 50 and older, Alachua County Commission Chair Ken Cornell has revamped the County’s Emergency Order to create different rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The order, which has already been signed and is now effective, will also be discussed at tomorrow’s Alachua County Commission meeting, where the county commission will have an opportunity to modify or ratify the Order.

Although the governor stated in a press conference last week that “vaccine passports” will not be permitted in Florida, this Order writes CDC recommendations regarding vaccinated individuals gathering with vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals into law, stating that Paragraph 4, which governs gatherings “of any number,” does not apply to gatherings of “those who have been fully vaccinated and other individuals approved by the CDC to gather with the fully vaccinated.” A previous draft of the Order that was in the agenda for tomorrow’s County Commission included this sentence, which does not appear in the current Order: “Any individual enforcing this Order may ask for proof of vaccination.” Without that sentence, it is unclear how individuals enforcing the order will determine who is vaccinated for purposes of enforcing rules on gatherings, and the Order does not prohibit officials from asking for proof of vaccination.

The County has described this as “relaxing” the restrictions on group gatherings because it allows vaccinated people to participate in activities that are not permitted for unvaccinated people. County Spokesman Mark Sexton says that the order does not create a “vaccine passport” because the County has not focused on enforcement but prefers to educate.

Florida’s Executive Clemency Board has also remitted all fines collected for COVID-19 Emergency Order violations, and the governor has signaled that future fines will be similarly remitted, but the County Order still provides for fines for not wearing facial coverings, adding, “To the extent that the Governor has remitted fines, no enforcement and collection actions shall be taken for any issue arising out of enforcement actions issued for behavior prior to March 10, 2021. To the extent that fines may not be collected against individuals, those cases may proceed but collection of fines will not be sought until allowed by Governor DeSantis or expiration of the final order regarding the same.”