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The headline basically says it all. A Michigan lawyer says it is within the rights of business owners in our state to ask customers for proof of vaccination and doing so does not constitute a HIPAA violation.

The Centers for Disease Control announced last week that fully vaccinated people can go without masks both indoors and outdoors with very little risk of spreading or contracting coronavirus. This has created a great deal of confusion among consumers and many Michigan businesses have issued policies regarding mask requirements.

Can businesses ask customers and employees about their vaccination histories?

Michigan Attorney Rolf Lowe says yes.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was established in order to protect patients' rights regarding how health information can be used and disclosed.

Lowe tells WLNS this does not extend beyond healthcare agencies and insurance providers.

“HIPAA is a law…it protects against what people who work in the health industry can do with your protected information and how they can share it,” Lowe said. “(Once) it’s in the patient's hands…when they’re asked to give that up, HIPAA doesn’t apply to that."

He goes on to say that HIPAA really only applies to your doctor's office, therapist, insurance companies, and the like.

Can businesses still require patrons to wear masks?

Again, Lowe says yes. Regardless of the CDC's stance on masks, he says businesses and employers can still require them.

“In most cases,” he said. “A store could have a policy in place that they (require) people to wear the masks.”

Lowe says the new guidance from the CDC has added to the confusion.

“We have messaging coming out from different places that’s not well-orchestrated,” he said.


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