Politico

Norwegian Cruise Line sues Florida over vaccine passport ban


Norwegian Cruise Line on Tuesday sued Florida’s surgeon general over a state law prohibiting cruise ships from requiring passengers to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination, marking the latest development in Florida’s battle with the cruise ship industry.

Details: Norwegian Cruise Line filed a lawsuit against Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, also the head of the Florida Health Department, claiming that the state’s ban on vaccine verification “poses imminent, substantial, irreparable harms” to the company.

The cruise line is also seeking a preliminary injunction that would it allow to begin checking passengers’ vaccination status, thus allowing the company’s ships to set sail in compliance with CDC guidelines.

Norwegian Cruise Line “is duty-bound to protect the health and safety of its personnel and passengers, as NCLH can and will by requiring proof of vaccinations, yet NCLH cannot afford to expose itself to prosecution by Florida and crushing penalties of up to $5,000 per passenger, as it would by requiring vaccine documentation in the present posture,” the lawsuit states.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration said on Tuesday that the company “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.”

Background: During the Covid-19 pandemic, Florida legislators approved a law barring vaccine requirements for many businesses, with the threat of a $5,000 fine per violation.

The DeSantis administration later sued the CDC, claiming the agency overstepped its authority when it put in place federal guidelines for the cruise industry. In June, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday sided with the DeSantis administration and temporarily blocked the CDC from enforcing its restrictions.

What’s next: Norwegian Cruise Line has requested a judge schedule a hearing on the matter. That date has not yet been set.

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