Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) told Breitbart News exclusively that his ban on vaccine passports in Georgia signed this week bans schools from kindergarten all the way through the university level from requiring students be vaccinated to attend class.
“Yes it does,” Kemp said when asked if it stops any school in the state from requiring students get the coronavirus vaccine to attend class in-person. “We continue to encourage that [getting vaccinated] if people are comfortable with it. We urge them to talk to their healthcare provider, pharmacist, anyone else they have confidence in to make that decision. I’ve encouraged people to get vaccinated. But this absolutely bans people from having to be vaccinated to be in the classroom, whether it’s our public university system or the public K-12 system.”
Kemp signed the order this week, which bans any government entity — including but not limited to schools — from requiring the vaccination of employees and those who use their services. Kemp said he and his family have all been vaccinated, and he continues to encourage the public to get vaccinated, but said it is their choice — not the government’s place to tell people what to do.
Vaccination is a personal decision between each citizen and a medical professional— not state government. Today, I released an executive order prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine passports in state government. https://t.co/cbmscfHbEs
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) May 25, 2021
“I’ve just been looking at this issue for quite a while and seeing the legislature and other states take a look at this issue and it’s something that concerned me and I talked to our team about it,” Kemp said. “The executive order is going to ban vaccine passports for any state service. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to the university system, K-12, any state agency whether you’re getting a driver’s license or any kind of state benefits or business you have with the state. We’re just not going to go there. The vaccine is still in emergency use. I’m very confident in it. I’ve been vaccinated. My whole family has, and it’s relief to be able to get back to normal because of that and really be able to move toward the end of the pandemic but we really feel like that’s something that shouldn’t be mandated with a year-old vaccine. It’s been a medical miracle and I give President [Donald] Trump and Operation Warp Speed all the credit for that. He’s probably not getting as much credit as he should, but that being said this isn’t something we should be mandating at this point. That’s basically what our executive order does — it ends that in state government and really sends a message to a lot of other people to in that this is the way to handle this. I haven’t been a big fan of mandates, as you know, during the pandemic.”
As for private businesses, Kemp told Breitbart News that his order does not ban an employer from requiring employees to get a vaccine to go to work. He said the market will sort itself out on that front, and if businesses are too heavy-handed with vaccine standards for employees and customers, then consumers will likely seek out an alternative.
“This executive order, as I’ve continued to do as a small business owner for 35 years and I want less government involved in regulating or mandating my business not more,” Kemp said. “You can’t have it both ways. This does not mandate or regulate any decision that private business can make. I feel like if businesses are making decisions that the consumer or end user don’t like, they can go do business with someone else. But I just don’t want to go down the road of government telling private businesses what they need to be doing with their daily activities. That applies to the vaccine but it also applies to a lot of other things.”
Part of why Kemp felt the need to step up and do this order, he told Breitbart News, is because he is noticing resistance and hesitancy from the public as politicians and bureaucrats — especially those from the federal government in Washington, D.C. — pressure people to get vaccinated. He is concerned that a wide-scale distrust of the government is driving vaccine hesitancy. In other words, Kemp said the actions of people like President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony Fauci and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky using the heavy hand of government to pressure the public to get vaccinated is actually driving people away from the vaccine as their distrust of government sets in. He specifically mentioned Biden attacking southern governors as employing “Neanderthal thinking” when several of them lifted mask mandates earlier in the spring as a moment that spiked vaccine hesitancy and more wide-scale distrust of federal government officials and the politics of the pandemic.
“I’m sure you’re like me, you don’t trust the government. Most people don’t,” Kemp said. “I don’t think the government trying to convince people that they should be doing this, that, and the other during the pandemic is the way to get people to adhere to things. I think it’s certainly important for the government to message, but when you start trying to mandate and twist arms a lot of people just revolt on that. I think we’ve seen a lot of that — you have seen that when President Biden called a lot of the southern governors Neanderthals for opening up. We’ve been open, sheesh — we basically took away all our restrictions three or four weeks ago. Even before that, we had been basically 95 percent open for a year. We figured out how to do different things, but people were just giving me the hardest time having in-person dining and bowling alleys and a lot of other things.”
Kemp continued by noting that so-called “experts” — many of whom have been repeatedly incorrect in their assertions and predictions during the pandemic’s course — attacking him along the way has also proven to the public that people like the federal officials pushing various mandates or policies are not trustworthy.
“When I reopened, when we took away even more parts of the executive order three or four weeks ago you had all these high profile university health people sitting in their basements saying this is a terrible decision to get rid of these mandates and you’re going to have a fourth wave,” Kemp said. “But our cases and our hospitalizations have plummeted. Our vaccine rates continue to go up slowly but surely. We’ve got to move on — we can’t continue to destroy sectors of our economy because you’ve got some professor who’s never signed a paycheck in his life making these decisions. I think the same is true at the federal level when you have them criticizing — I really feel like they don’t understand where the citizens are in different parts of the country. Maybe everybody is in D.C. where they’re in the bubble up there, but if you come to Georgia people have been dealing with this and they got back to normal for months and months and months now. They know what to do. The best thing to do is continue to ask them to talk to people that they trust about whether they should get vaccinated, whether their kids should get vaccinated, and how your local school is going to deal with this situation regardless of what decisions the parents and kids are making. Georgians can figure that out. We’ve been doing that for a year now, and I’m going to trust them to do that. To me, that’s how government should work and you know we got people walking around in a mask out in the middle of nowhere. It just doesn’t give confidence to me that the vaccine works if they’re still doing that. Take it off and show people that you’re vaccinated and be smart and you don’t have to wear a mask all the time.”
Kemp also mentioned that there is resistance inside the Biden administration to reopening some international travel, even though he said some Biden officials quietly support it. He said — with the exception of countries facing huge spikes in cases like India — it might be time to start encouraging such activity again.
“I have been hearing recently there is a big push in D.C. and obviously from the airline industry and others to get international travel going again,” Kemp said. “Obviously, I’m not advocating that for countries in the middle of a big spike like we’ve seen in India and other places but Delta did a pilot project with the Georgia Department of Public Health on trips to Europe and testing people before they go and we need to be doing more of that to fully reopen our economy. It’s my understanding there are a lot of people in the Biden administration that support that but you have a minority in the medical world up there that don’t want to do that and they’re for whatever reason playing pandemic politics or they’re scared. Those are the kinds of things that are really holding us back and people need to realize we could be hiring tens of thousands of people in great-paying jobs — pilots, airline mechanics, flight attendants, computer people.”
What’s more, Kemp said that he thinks the unwillingness by the Biden White House and some Democrat governors elsewhere in America to ditch all the restrictions and go back to normal — as Georgia and several other states like Florida and Texas have gone — is “by design.” Kemp said he thinks the Biden team wants to try to artificially create conditions whereby their government-centric big-spending agenda becomes more palatable politically, and said he believes Democrats are prolonging the painful pandemic restrictions to try to jam their agenda through a divided Washington rather than simply solving the problem.
“I personally think that’s by design,” Kemp said. “For them to be able to state the case for more government spending, to have more people beholden to them, they have to paint the picture that the economy is not good and not coming back. It’s not as rosy as you think. But when you look at the unemployment numbers in New York and California versus Georgia and Florida, where is the disconnect there? What is working and what is not? I just don’t — it’s like the border crisis. The biggest move that Biden and Harris have done on the border is to move kids around from one state or location to different parts of the country so you can’t have the kids in cages shots on the national news. But the problem hasn’t been solved out there and he doesn’t want to solve it. I think that’s part of their agenda. He wants to ignore what’s really happening in the economy and federal subsidies and unemployment in order to have more federal spending to appease the union bosses in New York and D.C. and other places around the country where their industries have been decimated because of bad policy that’s coming out of the White House.”
Kemp noted that the “kind of the tack we’ve taken” and encouraged other government officials to do is to spend more time actually listening to ordinary people and solving problems rather than using the pandemic for political gain. He said he hopes a recent visit by Walensky, the CDC director, to northern Georgia may help bring the Biden team closer to the reality of where ordinary Americans are on this.
“We had the CDC director in Dalton, Georgia, the other day,” Kemp said. “That is the real world. I’m sure she got to see exactly what’s happening on the ground up there and hopefully those kinds of scenes are making them make decisions on things like the masks. I personally don’t think the mask guidance [eliminating the recommendation for vaccinated people to wear masks indoors] went far enough but the problem is from the CDC is the messages have been so mixed there and what’s coming out of the White House that people just don’t have confidence. This is why I think it’s important for governors and other policymakers at the state level to be very consistent, very transparent, and trust people. I think that’s one reason we are doing so well.”