By Hannah Claire Brimelow
Norwegian Cruise Lines has filed a lawsuit against Florida over the state’s vaccine passport ban.
In May, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation that made it illegal for private businesses, schools, and government offices to require citizens to show proof of vaccination against COVID.
In a press release, DeSantis said “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. I’d like to thank President Simpson, Speaker Sprowls and the Florida Legislature for getting this legislation across the finish line.”
Now, the cruise line says it cannot safely resume trips without the vaccine verifications. One of the company’s ships is scheduled to sail from Miami on August 15 but could be canceled or delayed.
“The State of Florida has indicated that it is otherwise preventing (Norwegian) from safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations from Miami, Florida, … in the way that this cruise line has determined will be best for all concerned — with the benefit of documentation confirming that all of its passengers and crew have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” the company’s complaint said. They filed in the U.S. District Court on Tuesday,
Under the Florida law, companies can be fined $5,000 each time they ask customers if they are vaccinated.
Christina Pushaw, press secretary for DeSantis’ office, told USA Today “Norwegian Cruise Line (Holdings) 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 Travel Industry Today, Norwegian ‘s complaint “argued that restricting the flow of information—in this case, vaccine documentation—affects freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment” and that the vaccine passport ban “disrupts the flow of interstate and international commerce, in violation of a clause in the US Constitution that gives Congress the sole authority to regulate interstate commerce.”
The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines, Frank Del Rio, previously threatened to move ships out of Florida if the proof-of-vaccination ban was enforced.
The nation’s largest cruise lines – Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corp., and Norwegian – were devastated by lockdown and social distancing protocols. Since March of 2020, the companies have lost over $900 million every month.
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