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Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has filed a lawsuit challenging Florida’s ban on the use of vaccine passports, which the company says is hampering its ability to safely resume passenger cruises from the state.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings filed the lawsuit this week with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida against State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, seeking relief from recent legislation prohibiting businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Following an initial executive order, the ban on so-called vaccine passports was signed into state law by Governor DeSantis in May and threatens fines of $5,000 fine per violation.
The complaint states that NCLH is seeking the court’s help as a “last resort” since the law is effectively preventing NCLH brands from resuming Florida sailings as planned on August 15 in a manner that the company has “determined will be best for all concerned.” The company’s policy requires that all guests and crew are to be vaccinated and requires documentation confirming vaccination status prior to boarding.
“Despite the ongoing global pandemic and the accelerating spread of the Delta variant, Florida continues to prohibit us from requiring vaccine documentation which we believe would enable us to resume sailing in the safest way possible,” NCHL said in a statement. “We believe Florida’s prohibition is on the wrong side of federal law, public health, science and is not in the best interest of the welfare of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit, therefore, we have reluctantly turned to the courts for relief.”
Cruise lines in the United States have been permitted to resume sailings under a strict U.S. Centers for Disease Control conditional sail order. However, a Florida court in June sided with Governor DeSantis and temporarily blocked the CDC from enforcing its restrictions. Desantis’ office now says the state has no plans on budging to NCLH’s “meritless” demands either.
“Norwegian Cruise Line has made the disappointing and unlawful choice to join the CDC in discriminating against children and other individuals who cannot be vaccinated or who have opted not to be vaccinated for reasons of health, religion, or conscience. This Administration will not tolerate such widespread discrimination,” according to a statement reported by USA Today.
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