By Zachary Stieber
California is developing a COVID-19 vaccine verification system that will enable people who have gotten a jab to show proof of the shot to businesses, Gov. Gavin Newsom says.
“We’ll be doing something that provides you the opportunity, and we’ll announce this later this week, to have an electronic version of your paper version of vaccination,” the Democrat told reporters on Monday.
“It’s not a passport. It’s not a requirement. It’s just the ability now to have an electronic version of that paper version,” he said. “You’ll hear more about that in the next couple days.”
The state transitioned to an updated mask mandate on June 15. Masks are still required in some settings, such as in schools. Additionally, unvaccinated people must wear masks in restaurants and other public indoor settings.
Business operators were told that they can provide information to customers and nothing further, implement “vaccine verification” to determine which people must wear a mask, or require all patrons to wear a mask.
Newsom confirmed last week that there are efforts supported by the California Department of Public Health that entail enabling people to present proof of vaccination.
“As it relates to technology and the tools of technology, there are opportunities to make available, different strategies to provide more secure, safe, and transparent form of verification. But again, this is voluntary. So I want to make this crystal clear before folks run with it—it’s become so politicized, almost everything in the state, nation—that there’s no mandates, no requirement, no passports in that respect,” the first-term governor said.
“But if a business, a private enterprise, with the freedom of choice and decision, that’s what free enterprise is about, makes a decision as it relates to a choice … we would look to help support those efforts, and modernize the opportunities. And we’ll be making some announcements very shortly in that space,” he added.
Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told The Epoch Times that what Newsom described amounts to a vaccine passport.
“It’s violating federal law but this governor doesn’t seem to mind by violating any law just does what he wants to until he’s held accountable,” Staver said.
Liberty Counsel won a case last month against California’s church restrictions.
“If we have to we will certainly be back in court to challenge this governor,” Staver added.
Over half of U.S. states have banned so-called vaccine passports, but virtually all are governed by Republicans. GOP leaders have generally favored looser restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, while Democrats have kept harsh rules in place for much longer.
California and New York both lifted most pandemic-fueled restrictions on Tuesday, months after other large states like Texas and Florida. The restrictions did not lead to a more successful battle against COVID-19, data show.
California is still requiring masks despite over 55 percent of the population being fully vaccinated and another 10 percent getting at least one shot.
Health officials said that “risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection will remain until we reach full community immunity.” Some health experts believe that the combination of vaccinated and people who have recovered from COVID-19—gaining natural immunity—means the United States, or parts of the country, has reached herd immunity.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.