MONTGOMERY, Ala — Gov. Kay Ivey has signed a bill banning vaccine passports in Alabama.
Per Senate Bill 267, the state and local governments are prohibited from issuing vaccine passports to Alabamians.
Additionally, businesses in the state are prohibited from refusing service based on whether or not a customer has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Frida Morel, owner of Silhouette Boutique in Downtown Huntsville says even if she was able to ask the question, she probably would not have.
“I think it’s a bit too invasive perhaps I mean it’s their right if they want to or not and I cannot decide for them,” Morel told News 19.
Although she is fully vaccinated, she is still apprehensive when larger groups enter her boutique, “I still wear masks when I go to the grocery store or when I’m around big groups,” Morel said, ” I feel a little more confident being fully vaccinated but just because I’m vaccinated doesn’t mean I’m cured, so I have to be careful.”
But, Morel says whether you’re vaccinated or not, she’s still taking safety precautions for herself, her employees and her customers.
“I’m always cleaning the shop, I even use rubbing alcohol to clean the windows, I’m always wiping the screen when they sign. So I took every precaution, I’m not just protecting them, I’m also protecting me. So it’s very important to me and to my clients that they feel somewhat comfortable, safe,” Morel said.
Friend and neighbor just a few doors down, Nancy Finnegan, owner and make-up artist of Nancy Finnegan MUA, says maybe she would have asked if someone was vaccinated because she has children at home with auto-immune disease.
“I’m still going to treat them the same, I’m fully vaccinated. But, I feel everyone is wanting to get back and feeling social and being out and having things done like special occasions and proms and so they’re going to do what they need to do,” Finnegan said.
Although her clients can’t wear masks she says she’s still running business as usual since the pandemic restrictions began, like wearing her mask and sanitizing even though she’s fully vaccinated.
“I also have a guard that I wear underneath it, just so it’s easier for me to breathe. Sometimes I will wear a double mask. Being a make-up artist, I have a little bit more time between clients that I will take the time to sanitize with some Lysol wipes, I sanitize my palettes with alcohol and a U.V. light,” Finnegan said.
Both business owners said they’ve had no problems with clients or customers. When they have asked them to wear a mask, they’ve done so willingly.
However, business owners can still require their employees to get a vaccine.
The bill will not change any vaccine requirements for students in schools, so long as the requirements were in force prior to January 1, 2021, and they allow students to opt out of the requirement based on religious reasons or medical conditions.
SB267, introduced in February by State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), passed the Alabama State Senate in April and the Alabama State House last week.
Gov. Ivey remains supportive of Alabamians getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Since the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, both Dr. Harris and I have said that we would not mandate vaccines in the state of Alabama. I am supportive of a voluntary vaccine and by signing this bill into law, I am only further solidifying that conviction. I made the choice to get the COVID-19 vaccine and glad for the peace of mind it brings. I encourage any Alabamian who has not gotten their shot to roll up their sleeves, and if you have questions, consult with your health care provider.”Gov. Kay Ivey
Republicans backed the bill, saying a vaccine passport would be a government intrusion into personal freedom and health choices; Democrats expressed concern after a provision exempting nursing homes, higher education, assisted living communities, and hospitals from the passport ban.
The Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce says from social distancing to masking, it all puts a heavy burden on small business owners to make the best decisions for their businesses and the public at large.
With no way to know if someone is vaccinated, all business owners can do is encourage health precautions such as social distancing and mask wearing.
The Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce recognizes the burden placed on small business owners to make the best decisions to keep their staff and customers safe.
“So if a small business says hey, in order to come into this establishment we prefer that you have on a mask, they are there to protect the clients the customers and they are there to protect their employees,” says Pammie Jimmar, Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce Vice President Small Business and Events.