Can local cities force you to show vaccine status to get into businesses?

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO (WKBN) – As more and more Americans get the vaccine to fight against COVID-19, the question rises, “Can the government force us to?” And, if so, can we see that happen in the Youngstown area?

The mayor of New York City just recently announced that anyone entering a restaurant, gym or indoor venue has to show their vaccine status. The response has been quick on both sides of the issue.

There are many small businesses in Youngstown that could be affected if city officials made that same mandate here.

“Logistically, it would be bad to have to check vaccine cards at the door, and I hate that level of regulation, but we as a society have to figure out what to do,” said Jacob Harver, owner of the Knox building in downtown Youngstown.

So far, roughly 5.8 million Ohioans have gotten at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine with around 5.4 million being fully vaccinated. 

Youngstown law director Jeff Limbian says that happening in Youngstown is unlikely.

“I think it’s unconstitutional and unenforceable to try to suggest that somehow government could or should intervene and try to do that with private entities,” Limbian said.

He said there isn’t anything in Ohio law that prevents it from being attempted, but if so it could be challenged.

He does however encourage people to get vaccinated to keep themselves and others safe.

Limbian also says local business owners have the right to require their patrons to be vaccinated if they wish to.

“If a restaurant that serves the public, or private entity wants to engage in that kind of, in consolidation or somehow an attempt to only serve vaccinated people, they’re certainly, I think, free to do that,” he said.

Whether or not the majority of business owners will, is still up in the air.

“We have to do something,” Harver said. “The more people that are unvaccinated introduces more variants, and then the people who are vaccinated could be at risk then.”

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