A large number of live entertainment spaces in Florida have found themselves targeted by the Florida Department of Health for potential fines, according to numerous reports. The venues are among hundreds of private entities that state officials say are in violation of the state’s ban on vaccine passports, which was put in place by Republican governor Ron DeSantis.
Companies found to be in violation of the ban could be fined $5,000 for every person who was asked to prove if they had been vaccinated, per DeSantis’ policy.
Live Nation venues are all over the list, as the company began requiring all in attendance to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of a recent negative COVID test for entry earlier in October.
iTHINK Financial Amphitheater, House of Blues, and MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre all show up multiple times in the published list, which appears to have been generated by user submissions based on the variety of spellings and events referenced. Live Nation itself is mentioned in the listing, as are multiple other venues and events in the state including Amway Center, Kravis Center, Broward Center of the Performing Arts, Plaza Live, Dr. Phillips center/Walt Disney Center, Feld Entertainment Studios, Gasparilla Music Festival, New World Festival, Armory Center for the Arts, Riverview High School Performing Arts Center, Orange County Convention Center, Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, Coast is Clear Music Festival, and Florida Repertory Theatre.
Should health officials actually attempt to fine each entity for every patron who was asked to provide either vaccination or negative test proof, the total sums could be enormous. On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health issued a notice of violation to the Leon County Government alleging 714 instances of violation and assessing fines totalling more than $3.5 million.
“It is unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida law, infringed on current and former employees’ medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in a statement published by the Department of Health. “We will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law. We’re going to stand up for Floridians’ jobs, stand up for Floridians’ livelihoods, and stand up for freedom.”
An assessment of fines for even one show at a venue of 20,000 – such as MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre – would be in excess of $100 million.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Florida Department of Health will actually attempt to levy such fines, which would undoubtedly trigger an enormous legal battle. It is believed that the allowing of a negative test result as an alternative method of entry to a proof of vaccination leaves live entertainment venues in the clear. But that doesn’t guarantee that the Florida government won’t pick that fight anyways.
DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have been the staunchest opponents of attempts at allowing any kind of restriction on live event attendance as the nation has reopened from lockdown and continued to seek safe operations amid COVID. Both states, which are among the most populous in the country and have huge live entertainment and sports markets, were early to allow crowds back at events. That led to some events relocating, such as last year’s World Series, which was played entirely at Arlington’s Globe Life Field.
Abbott, also a republican, issued an executive order on Monday stating that no entity can “compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination by any individual” that puts the Lone Star State in league with Florida on the issue.