"An Anomalous, Misguided Intrusion": Major Cruise Line Sues Florida Over Vaccine Passport Ban
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As travel and leisure begins to return to pre-pandemic levels of normal, people are finally beginning to plan trips and vacations that they haven’t been able to take in over a year.
For many, this includes embarking on cruises, which were hotspots for coronavirus outbreaks and forced quarantines at the beginning of the pandemic.
Like many countries and cities, cruise lines are requiring proof of vaccination before welcoming customers aboard in an attempt to avoid outbreaks and further infections.
The state of Florida has taken a strong stance against these policies, passing legislature that bans businesses operating in the state to require customers to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19.
Norwegian Cruise Line is now hitting back at the state of Florida with a lawsuit against the state’s surgeon general that calls for an end to the new law and asks for a preliminary injunction (temporary court order) that would prevent the state from enforcing the law until the suit is settled. If successful, this injunction would allow Norwegian ships to sail in accordance with the company's own health and safety regulations.
Norwegian's regulations were developed by following the CDC's Conditional Sailing Order, which gives guidelines to cruise lines as they begin to resume services.
If it disobey's the state's new orders, the cruise line could face fines of up to $5,000 per passenger as well as other prosecution. In its lawsuit, Norwegian called Florida’s legislature “an anomalous, misguided intrusion” that could cause “irreparable harm of vast dimensions,” according to Bloomberg. The company's first post-Covid cruise is set to sail out of Miami on August 15.
“This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses,” Florida governor Ron DeSantis said when signing the vaccine passport ban on May 3. “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected, and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”
"The upshot places NCLH in an impossible dilemma as it prepares to set sail from Florida: NCLH will find itself either on the wrong side of health and safety and the operative federal legal framework, or else on the wrong side of Florida law," NCLH’s filing says, according to CNN.
NCLH was up nearly 67% year over year as of Wednesday afternoon.