South Dakota’s Noem Bans Vaccine Passports

April 21, 2021 Updated: April 22, 2021

South Dakota’s governor said on April 21 that she has taken executive action to ban the use of digital or paper documentation that enables people to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.

Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, said the executive order she signed concerning so-called vaccine passports aligns with making sure South Dakotans are able to exercise their freedoms.

“Since the start of the COVID pandemic, we have provided the people of South Dakota with up-to-date science, facts, and data and then trusted them to exercise their personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones. We’ve resisted government mandates, and our state is stronger for it,” she said in a statement.

“I encourage all South Dakotans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but we are not going to mandate any such activity. And we are not going to restrict South Dakotans’ exercise of their freedoms with un-American policies like vaccine passports. In our state, ‘Under God, the people rule.’ And that is how we will operate for as long as I am governor.”

Discussions are taking place on requiring such proof at various venues, which would be “discriminatory treatment” against people who haven’t gotten COVID-19 vaccines, Noem’s three-page order states.

“Any rationale for imposing public health restrictions that limit freedoms should be tailored to mitigate a verifiable, scientific risk,” it said. “Implementing a vaccine passport program could lead to unjustified, non-science-based restrictions on travel, speech, association, and other civil rights.”

Epoch Times Photo
Vials of COVID-19 vaccine are seen in Bridgeport, Conn., on April 20, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

The order bars state agencies, departments, boards, commissions, and other entities or officials under the governor’s control from requiring a person to present a COVID-19 vaccine passport in order to enter a government building, receive a government benefit, or do business with the government.

The same entities are barred from requiring that private businesses mandate a passport.

In addition, local governments are advised not to require or order businesses to require proof of vaccination.

The order provides clear exemptions for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities.

About 53 percent of South Dakota has received at least one COVID-19 shot, according to the latest figures shared by its Department of Health. About 4 out of 10 residents are fully vaccinated.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, all Republicans, recently issued similar bans.

However, some other states are exploring the possibility of requiring proof of vaccination.

Officials in Hawaii, for instance, said earlier this month that they are looking into requiring proof of vaccination for people traveling between islands in the state.

“I think that makes a lot of sense,” Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat, said. “It would immediately empower probably about half of our travelers inside the islands to travel safely.”

Venues in New York state have also begun requiring proof of vaccination.

The White House has said that the federal government won’t mandate vaccine passports. The World Health Organization also recently came out against the passports, at least for now, citing concerns that such requirements would disproportionately affect groups like pregnant women and the poor.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.