Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed an executive order Wednesday to ban the state and businesses from mandating vaccine passports, making Montana the fifth state to denounce the passes that allow holders to prove they’ve been vaccinated against coronavirus—joining Idaho, Texas, Florida and Utah—as Republicans continue to ramp up a political culture war issue.
Gianforte, who signed the executive order from isolation after testing positive for coronavirus last week, said he would still “strongly encourage” his constituents to receive a vaccine, but said he won’t allow vaccine passports in Montana to protect “individual liberty and personal privacy.”
It’s a sentiment he shares with Idaho Gov. Gov. Brad Little (R) who issued an order Friday banning state government entities from requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination to receive public services, in which he noted vaccines are the “best shot at protecting jobs and saving lives.”
On Tuesday, April 6, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a similar executive order to block Texas state departments and groups that use public funds from issuing vaccine passports or mandating proof of immunization to receive services.
On Friday, April 2, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order with an even further reach — under the order, the state government will punish private businesses that opt to require proof of vaccination by barring them from state grants or contracts.
In February, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill into law that bans the Utah state government from requiring or issuing vaccine passports, though private businesses remain free to mandate them for patrons if they wish.
The White House has pledged it will not pursue a vaccine passport sponsored by the federal government. The Biden administration “is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday.
52%. That’s the percentage of registered voters who support a government-sponsored vaccine passport, a new HarrisX-Hill poll released Tuesday suggests.
Republicans have spoken out against vaccine passports out of concerns their use will violate users’ privacy rights and that they will be used to discriminate against unvaccinated Americans. The majority of vaccine passports in development are being spearheaded by private companies in hopes it will embolden customers to feel safe traveling and pursuing in-person entertainment again at places like sports arenas, restaurants and live music venues. So far, New York is the only state to launch its own vaccine passport.