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Businesses could start asking customers for proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Legal experts say businesses have the right to ask customers if they are vaccinated against COVID-19 without fearing legal repercussions. A local college explains why it’s perfectly legal.

Under HIPAA rules, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability, businesses can inquire about people’s vaccination status. This means they can ask to see a customer’s vaccination card for proof. But some legal experts wonder if that will actually happen.

University of Indianapolis Associate Professor of Business and attorney Dr. Stephen Maple says this is a big concern for some companies. He says they don’t want customers to be irritated, leave or the store or offend them.

Dr. Maple says that mentality already exists in some counties where there are mask mandates. He says customers will go into a place of business without a mask and employees won’t say anything.

HIPAA is a law that prevents health care professionals from sharing a patient’s private health information without permission. As long as the place of business doesn’t store any of the customers information, Dr. Maple says it’s legal to ask for proof of the vaccine.

“We’re coming out of a financial crisis particularly for a lot of these companies and so they don’t want to lose customers and I can certainly understand that,” he said. “There are just people that think the world owes them and nobody can tell them what to do. That’s sort of scary for each of us and our health needs.”

Dr. Maple says customers can cover their name on their vaccination card so there’s no identification. He says the business would have the right to ask those who refuse to put on a mask.

Starting Monday, people in Marion County who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to wear masks unless required in businesses. The city-county council will vote on the changes that evening.