A bill, introduced to the New Jersey senate would prohibit public agencies and private businesses from asking whether people have been vaccinated, requiring they be vaccinated in order to gain entry or requiring they show proof they have been vaccinated.
“We’re extremely concerned by Governor Murphy’s willingness to consider the use of vaccine passports that could prevent people from working, going to school, or visiting public places,” state Sen. Jim Holzapfel said in a statement. “In a free society that respects individual rights, we believe health decisions should be a personal, private choice that a patient doesn’t have to discuss with anyone but their doctor.”
Employers wouldn’t be allowed to condition a person’s employment or deny a promotion based on their vaccination record, under the bill.
Advocates say passports will allow the country to re-emerge safely from the pandemic and get back to normal, while opponents argue they restrict personal freedoms and privacy rights.
As of Monday, everyone 16 and older who lives, works or studies in New Jersey is eligible for a vaccine, an estimated 6.9 million people. More than a third of adults in the Garden State have already been fully vaccinated and more than half have received at least one dose.
The Biden administration has said it will issue guidelines about vaccine passports but will leave the details to the states. The CDC would need to give guidance on how states should execute the passports, he added.
Anyone found to have violated the ban could be ordered to pay $25,000 in civil damages plus attorney’s fees, the bill says. The bill would need to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and Assembly and be signed by the governor to become law.
“We don’t think our state government should threaten or allow for personal freedoms to be restricted based on vaccination status,” Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, R-Ocean, an Assembly sponsor, said in a statement. “Requiring vaccine passports to engage in everyday activities would be discriminatory and raise a host of serious constitutional and privacy concerns. This fatally flawed idea needs to be nipped in the bud.”
A second bill, introduced by Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland, on Monday would block New Jersey government from mandating businesses screen customers for vaccination.