Pete Buttigieg says federal government should ‘encourage’ vaccine passports

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said that the federal government should “encourage” private businesses to implement vaccine passports when he was asked this week about Texas’s ban on the practice. 

“If a company, a business wants to take steps to keep their workers and their passengers safe, I would think that, from a government perspective, we want to do everything we can to encourage that,” Buttigieg told KDFW FOX 4 in Dallas on Monday. “And that’s certainly our view at the federal level.”

While Buttigieg appears fine with private businesses requiring proof of vaccination, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation told Fox News Wednesday that the Biden administration does not support any form of government-mandated vaccine passport. 

WHAT IS A VACCINE PASSPORT AND HOW WOULD IT WORK? 

Dr. Anthony Fauci told Politico in April that he doubts “the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept.”

“I’m not saying that they should or that they would, but I’m saying you could foresee how an independent entity might say, ‘Well, we can’t be dealing with you unless we know you’re vaccinated,’ but it’s not going to be mandated from the federal government,” Dr. Fauci told the news outlet. 

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order in April that bans state government agencies and any organization that receives public funding in Texas from mandating vaccine passports. 

“We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health — and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms,” Gov. Abbott said at the time. 

Then, earlier this month, Gov. Abbott signed a bill that expanded this ban by prohibiting private businesses from requiring “a customer to provide any documentation certifying the customer’s COVID-19 vaccination.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a vaccine passport ban into law in May, saying that “your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”

Several other states, including Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, and Idaho, have taken steps to ban vaccine passports. 

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Hawaii and New York are the only states whose governments have taken the lead on vaccine passports. 

New York rolled out a government-sponsored vaccine passport program earlier this year called “Excelsior Pass,” which allows a user to show proof of vaccination on their smartphone. 

Hawaii launched a limited vaccine passport program for inter-island travel that allows residents to skip testing and quarantine rules, Hawaii News Now reports. 

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