Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has won a ruling in U.S. Federal Court that will allow it to require proof of vaccination from its passengers in defiance of a Florida law that prohibits it.
U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams granted an injunction that temporarily overrides Florida’s recently introduced law that forbids any business from demanding proof of vaccination from its customers, including any cruise company.
The ruling could have major implications for the rest of the cruise industry, which generally agrees that a strong policy on vaccinations is the way forward for a safe and successful resumption of sailing.
Under the terms of the law, first introduced as an executive order by Governor Ron DeSantis in April and cemented into law in May, any company in breach of the law can be fined up to $5,000 per customer.
Judge Williams said Florida failed to “provide a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate” for banning vaccination proof, while Norwegian “demonstrated that public health will be jeopardised if it is required to suspend its vaccination requirement.”
She also agreed with NCL’s assertion that the law infringed on its rights to free speech.
Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio said: “We welcome today’s ruling that allows us to sail with 100 percent fully vaccinated guests and crew which we believe is the safest and most prudent way to resume cruise operations amid this global pandemic.”
NCL is set to sail from Florida for the first time in 18 months when Norwegian Gem departs from PortMiami on 15 August.
Florida Will Appeal
Governor DeSantis’ office responded by saying, “We disagree with the judge’s legal reasoning and will be appealing to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.”
“A prohibition on vaccine passports does not even implicate, let alone violate, anyone’s speech rights, and it furthers the substantial, local interest of preventing discrimination among customers based on private health information.”
Florida’s Covid numbers have spiked considerably in recent weeks as the state battles the delta variant wave which has swept throughout the U.S..