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BRANDON, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Thursday that will "protect Floridians from losing their jobs due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and protect parents' rights to make healthcare decisions for students," a release from the governor's office states.

The bills were passed through this week's Special Session of the Florida Legislature.

Effective immediately in Florida:

Private Employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates are prohibited

  • Employees can choose from numerous exemptions, including but not limited to, health or religious concerns; pregnancy or anticipated future pregnancy; and past recovery from COVID-19.
  • Employees can choose to opt for periodic testing or PPE as an exemption.
  • Employers must cover the costs of testing and PPE exemptions for employees.

Employers who violate these employee health protections will be fined

  • Small businesses (99 employees or less) will face $10,000 per employee violation.
  • Medium and big businesses will face $50,000 per employee violation.

Government entities may not require COVID-19 vaccinations of anyone, including employees

Educational institutions may not require students to be COVID-19 vaccinated

School districts may not have school face mask policies

School districts may not quarantine healthy students

Students and parents may sue violating school districts and recover costs and attorney’s fees

“I told Floridians that we would protect their jobs and today we made that the law,” Gov. DeSantis says in a release. “Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed COVID mandates and we had a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of the people of Florida. I’m thankful to the Florida Legislature for joining me in standing up for freedom.”

“The mission of this special session was to ensure that the law reflects the values of liberty in our state,” said Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “Floridians are now protected in their jobs, at school and as parents to choose how to protect themselves from COVID-19. Thank you Governor DeSantis for your leadership in making practical and informed decisions based on science.”

Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Thursday that Florida is challenging the CMS rule in court.