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Is it legal to ask for proof of vaccination?

KVUE spoke to some Texas lawyers and one said yes, it's legal. But there is some gray area.

AUSTIN, Texas — Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has loosened the recommendations on wearing masks, should someone have to prove they are fully vaccinated?

To get into Deco Blue Salon, you need a mask. But to take it off, you have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and prove it by showing your card. 

"Just show it to us, take it with you and go on your way," said Deklynd Channing, owner of Deco Blue Salon. "We are not making any recording off it." 

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Channing said he put the rule in place last week after the CDC announced fully vaccinated people don't have to wear a face mask in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors. 

"My few clients who haven't been vaccinated appreciate it, " Channing said. 

Channing's employee, Deborah Lira, who has cancer, also appreciates it. 

"It's her third time. She gets infusions every two weeks," Channing said. 

Channing told KVUE his entire staff is vaccinated, but he wants to accommodate everyone. 

So, is this legal? Texas lawyer Quentin Brogdon with Crain Brogden Rogers Law firm said yes – but there is some gray area. 

"It's just like a sign for 'no shirt, no shoes, no service,' and private businesses can set the terms under which they will wait on or provide service to customers," Brogden said."On the other hand, I would not recommend it. It's full of all kinds of potential problems for the businesses."

On Twitter, some KVUE viewers asked what about HIPAA. Brogden said HIPAA mainly covers hospitals and health providers from sharing your private information. 

"What most of us don't understand is that HIPAA really has a limited application," Brogden said. "It prevents so-called covered entities, which mostly are hospitals and doctors and health providers, from sharing information, health care information, private information without our permission. Businesses, you can argue, are not covered entities when the customers come in. So, it's not clear there are arguments both ways about whether HIPAA might apply here, but there's an argument that it does not." 

Joe Lopez, the owner Joe Lopez Law firm, said it is not a HIPAA violation. 

"HIPAA is protecting the patient, but if the person is releasing the information voluntarily, it's not against HIPAA," Lopez said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned groups that receive state money from requiring people to show a "vaccine passport" or any proof they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, the order doesn't impact businesses that don't receive State funding. So, until Channing gets updated guidance from the CDC, he told KVUE it's his decision to make.

 "I hope everyone respects that," Channing said.

State lawmakers weighed in, too. The Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 968, which would make it illegal for businesses to require customers to show vaccination passports. The bill is now in a House committee.

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