By: Mariel Carbone
CINCINNATI — City Council on Tuesday voted down a proposed ban on “vaccine passports,” leaving the door open for private businesses to require their patrons to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Republican Betsy Sundermann, who introduced the ban as a motion and became the only vote in its favor, argued it would provide clarity for Cincinnati companies considering vaccine passport requirements.
“Businesses have the right to know what we’re going to do,” she said. “It’s not our role as government to force especially private businesses to require those. Our restaurants are struggling right now, our small businesses. We’d be asking servers and bartenders and grocer clerks to verify medical documents.”
Every other member of City Council voted against a ban. Democrat Chris Seelbach argued it didn’t make sense to consider a ban on a policy that was not widespread within the city and had not been formally proposed within City Hall.
“I am not going to support something that’s banning us from doing something that we haven’t even talked about even considering doing,” he said.
Others, such as Republican Liz Keating, worried that implementing a ban now could tie the council’s hands if health officials recommended vaccine passports in the future.
“I think, out of principle, making a decision about something we don’t know in the future what health commissioners are going to advise, I just think it’s irresponsible,” she said.
Sundermann’s proposed vaccine passport ban was a partial response to New York City’s requirement that people show vaccine status there.
No single vaccine policy is banned or enforced by state law in Ohio. Some individual venues and private businesses in Cincinnati, including the Taft Theatre, Music Hall and Andrew J. Brady ICON Music Center, have instituted their own proof-of-vaccination policies.