Is it legal for businesses to ask to see vaccination cards?
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With the recently lifted mask mandate in Virginia, many businesses are trying to navigate these new measures, including what to do about vaccination cards as the pandemic continues.
Some people have asked questions over the legality of businesses asking to see customers’ vaccination cards.
The short answer – it is legal.
“Just about everything is legal until somebody passes a law to make it illegal,” said Allen & Allen Medical Malpractice Attorney Mic McConnell. “There is no such law on the books.”
So ultimately when asked to see a vaccination card at a business it all comes down to you and your comfort level.
“If a private business wants to ask that question - they can,” McConnell added. “You can walk up to some stranger on the street and ask ‘have you had a flu shot?’ and they can react however they want to react, but it’s not against the law.”
“Personally, I don’t know that I would feel that comfortable, even though I have been vaccinated,” said Alicia Waters. “I don’t know that I would want to show a vaccination card because I feel like it’s part of my medical records.”
Waters said it is going to take some time to get used to the new measures. While she may choose to still mask up, she understands it is a business’s choice.
“That’s the business’s space and they have to look out for their other clientele,” Waters added.
“Even with mandates being lifted, recommendations from the CDC, and Governor Northam’s new order, a private business can continue to mandate masks if they choose to,” McConnell said.
Many shops and restaurants in Richmond’s Carytown are still requiring you to wear a mask whether you are vaccinated or not.
However, Babes of Carytown is taking on a new approach.
On Saturday the club posted on social media saying if you have proof of your vaccination you can party mask-free, otherwise, you will have to mask up.
“Most people are really excited to have followed protocol for 14 months and mentally and physically need to be rewarded and we want to do our part,” said a representative for Babes. “We are also pushing all of our customers to get vaccinated, and they will still be required to wear a mask if they don’t.”
The club checks temperatures at the door along with IDs and vaccine cards (or a matching picture on their phone).
“With a vaccine [card you] get a wristband and the mask is no longer needed,” a representative said.
Those who have not been vaccinated are required to keep their masks on, except when seated.
Meanwhile, some people have questioned whether asking for your vaccination card violates HIPAA.
“HIPAA does not prevent people from asking you questions,” McConnell said. “HIPAA prevents people who are in a fiduciary relationship with you, like your doctor, from disclosing your confidential medical information to other people. That’s perhaps an over-simplification, but that’s the gist.”
On Monday the Governor’s Office also released a statement about businesses asking for vaccination cards.
“Businesses are free to ask for proof of vaccination if they choose,” said spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky. “What form this verification takes is up to the business. Alternatively, businesses may also choose to continue requiring all patrons and employees wear masks.”
However, on June 30, Virginia’s State of Emergency is set to expire. Technically, after that date, it would be illegal for anyone over the age of 16 to wear a mask in public.
Yarmosky said Northam is committed to working on a plan to allow those who are not vaccinated or may not be comfortable going without a mask, to still have that option to wear one after that date.
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