COLUMBUS, Ohio — The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
Republican lawmaker wants to prohibit “vaccine passports” in the state of Ohio, saying that doing so will ensure residents will maintain their freedom during the pandemic’s final stages.
State Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, wants to outlaw any requirement that Ohioans show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination “in order to be allowed entry into an area or establishment,” a news release announcing the proposed legislation states.
“Ohioans are encouraged to take the COVID-19 vaccine for the health and well-being of themselves and others,” Cutrona stated. “However, a vaccine should not be mandated or required by our government for our people to integrate back to a sense of normalcy. We’ve had restrictions on our freedoms for over a year and more restrictions or mandates are not the answer to every issue related to COVID-19.”
Such vaccine passports have been suggested for international travel, though New York recently announced a digital “Excelsior Pass” to allow residents there to attend theaters, stadiums, wedding receptions and other large-scale events.
“Ohio is not New York,” Cutrona stated. “I anticipate introducing this bill to ensure that the liberties of all Ohioans are instilled throughout this vaccination phase of the pandemic.”
Gov. Mike DeWine has not indicated any plan to institute a vaccine passport program in Ohio, though President Joe Biden’s administration is reported to be working on a nation-wide program.
The Ohio Capital Journal sought comment about vaccine passports and this proposed legislation from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. It’s unclear yet whether the organization will support this pending bill.
“While we generally support allowing private sector businesses to determine their own policies free from government interference, a global pandemic like we’re experiencing is obviously unprecedented and we’re discussing these types of issues with our members,” wrote Julie Wagner Feasel, vice president of communications for the Chamber, in an email.
Other Republicans have condemned the concept as well, including U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel:
Vaccine Passports trample on human liberty.— Josh Mandel (@JoshMandelOhio) March 30, 2021
Visit our Vaccinating Ohio page for the latest updates on Ohio's vaccination program, including links to sign up for a vaccine appointment, a map of nearby vaccination sites, a detailed breakdown of the state's current vaccine phase, and continuing local coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Ohio.
Download the News 5 app for free for your Apple or Google device for the latest vaccine and COVID-19 news, and for limited and timely news alerts on vaccines, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other important local news and weather.