After 16 months of mask mandates, social distancing and stay-at-home orders, California is finally opening up its “golden gates,” giving citizens a sense of hope and opportunity in the coming months. On June 15, the State of California will reopen, prompting questions from Orange County residents regarding their safety and security in this post-pandemic world.
Coronavirus cases have decreased significantly as approximately 1.5 million vaccinations have been distributed in Orange County. As a result, governments and businesses are utilizing vaccine passports to guarantee safety and promote herd immunity, on a local and international level. Vaccination cards are handed out post-vaccination, including information such as the location of the distribution center, dates received and type of vaccine injected.
Though the utilization of these record cards primarily revolve around international travel, many businesses and corporations are beginning to require them for entry into their establishments. This maintains a safe and consistent environment for all patrons to feel comfortable. These cards, however, are raising concerns for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated residents.
On May 11, Orange County residents gathered in downtown Huntington Beach, protesting the use of a digital passport, which would use QR codes to determine whether someone has received a vaccine or not. Protestors claim that the digital passport will be unconstitutional and used for more than monitoring vaccinations, given the technological capabilities of tracking and “branding” citizens.
Dino Farraro, owner and chef of Capone’s Cucina and Black Trumpet Bistro, remained in full operation throughout the pandemic, despite government mandates and regulations. Farraro came to the United States from Italy to pursue his dream of opening restaurants catering to authentic cuisine.
Considering the cost of rent and upkeep of these two Huntington Beach restaurants, Farraro decided to take action to prevent the loss of both businesses. After months of following guidelines and restrictions, he made the decision to lift the restaurants’ mask requirements and open up indoor dining. This was referred to as a “silent protest,” promoting the restaurants’ rights to stay operating during the pandemic.
“It says very clearly in the constitution that in the time of emergency, no president or governor can tell you not to earn a living,” he said. “We came for freedom in the United States and they are taking that away from us…it’s not right.”
COVID-19 vaccination cards may have the potential to regulate the virus, but many people do not wish to sacrifice their freedom. Once approved by the FDA, California Community Colleges could potentially require the vaccination in order to return to in-person classes. This poses many concerns for students who do not want the vaccine, but wish to return on-campus. Orange Coast College student Basma Boulus has not yet been vaccinated, but has been anticipating her return to campus in the coming semesters.
“I do not think they should require the vaccine or vaccine passport because that would be forcing students to take it whether or not they want it,” Basma said. “I’d feel safe because I know that even though not everyone took the vaccine, there is a good majority of people that have.”