- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2021

A recent survey finds that 67% of vaccinated Americans believe the unvaccinated should pay a “COVID tax” to cover businesses’ pandemic safety expenses, but most business owners and the unvaccinated themselves don’t believe in such fees.

Skynova, an invoicing software for small businesses, conducted the digital survey of 1,075 Americans. The firm’s project manager, Joe Mercurio, said the survey reflects a “consensus among people … that unvaccinated people should have to pay precautionary COVID-19 fees when visiting a business” to help cover the costs of personal protective equipment and other materials.

“Plane tickets, movie tickets, and services within the hospitality industry are in high demand ahead of the holidays, and it’s notable that these are the top services people feel the unvaccinated should have to pay more for or even be denied outright,” Mr. Mercurio said.

Higher prices for unvaccinated consumers would amount to “a new tax” to help business owners cover the $132 that they estimate spending monthly on personal protective equipment, the survey said.

Two-thirds of vaccinated respondents approved of some kind of “COVID tax,” but only 12% of business owners agreed.

And while 54% of vaccinated Americans were personally willing to pay a fee for COVID-19 precautions when visiting a business, only 8% of the unvaccinated said they would do the same.

Only 13% of on-site business owners reported having a fully vaccinated workforce, the survey noted.

Skynova found that 48% of vaccinated respondents want to charge the unvaccinated more for airline tickets, 44% for movie tickets, 36% for restaurant meals, 33% for hotel stays, 30% for health insurance and 30% for in-store purchases.

Opinions on whether the unvaccinated should pay such fees varied by political party, with 31% of vaccinated Republicans saying they supported “none” compared to 14% of vaccinated Democrats who said the same.

“Across the board, Democrats were more in favor than Republicans of heightened pricing for the unvaccinated,” the survey noted.

For example, 56% of vaccinated Democrats said the unvaccinated should pay more for plane tickets and movie tickets, compared to about 35% of vaccinated Republicans who favored such fees.

Large percentages of survey respondents also favored businesses denying service as a condition of vaccination.

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The survey found that 46% of vaccinated Americans said the unvaccinated should be denied access to plane tickets and movie tickets, 38% supported denying access to restaurant meals and 35% supported denying access to in-store purchase and hotel stays.

And 19% of vaccinated respondents supported denying access to health insurance for the unvaccinated.

The survey cited a Feb. 5 Washington Post story that reported on consumers being secretly charged “anywhere from $5 to $1,200 in COVID-19 fees at places like the dentist’s office, senior living homes, and restaurants.”

Respondents to the Skynova survey included 471 company employees, 583 business owners, and 21 unemployed individuals. The gender breakdown was 54% men, 45% women, and 1% who identified as nonbinary.

A total of 541 Democrats, 336 Republicans, and 198 people who identified as “Other” completed the survey.

The exploratory survey was conducted Oct. 8-11 via Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing website for businesses. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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