“Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a sweeping measure into law on Friday that will largely ban COVID-19 vaccine passports and restrict the enforcement of mask mandates across the state.
The new law (pdf) will take effect immediately, banning government entities, public schools, and many private businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of entry, or mandating vaccines among their staff.
Businesses that contract with the federal government—and thereby receive federal funds, including public universities—may be able to mandate vaccines and masks after they apply for and obtain approval from the state’s comptroller’s office, if they can make the case that not doing so could result in them losing out on federal funding.
Some companies and higher education institutions have already reached out about being exempt from the requirements. The comptroller will have an online form up and running for exemption applications by Monday, spokesperson John Dunn said, reported The Associated Press.
“I think most businesses don’t want the intervention that was delivered first by the federal government,” Lee told reporters on Wednesday, reported the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “We had a federal government who required businesses against their will to require their employees against their will to make a personal health decision which is an egregious overreach by the federal government.””