Judge Decides Florida Cannot Ban Norwegian Cruise Line’s ‘Vaccine Passport’

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A judge ruled on Sunday that Norwegian Cruise Line was allowed to require customers to show proof of vaccination before boarding a ship, dealing a blow to the government. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantis As COVID-19 infections rise, vaccine mandates follow Teachers union president signals personal support for vaccine mandates GOP senator says he disagrees with DeSantis on mandates mask PLUSThe law of (R-Fla.) Which prevented the use of “vaccine passports” in the state.

The nearly 60-page preliminary ruling by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in the Southern District of Florida said state law prohibiting the use of vaccine passports is likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment and puts into effect danger to public health.

The judge ruled that Florida surgeon general Scott Rivkees, against whom Norwegian has filed a lawsuit against the vaccine passport ban, cannot enforce the law with the cruise line, giving Norwegian the green light to put implementing its security measures from August 15, when the company plans to resume passenger cruises from the Sunshine State.

DeSantis signed a law in May banning vaccine passports in the state.

Norwegian welcomed the move in a statement Sunday, writing that allowing vaccinated passengers on board is “the safest vacation experience” to resume navigation.

“The public health environment continues to evolve around the world and our strong, science-based health and safety protocols, with vaccines at the core, allow us to deliver what we believe to be the experience. safest vacation for people who want to resume their daily lives. live and explore the world again, ”said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norewegian Cruise Line Holdings, in a statement.

Daniel Farkas, executive vice president and general counsel for Norwegian, said the lawsuit was filed “in the best interests of the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit in an effort to do our part. as a responsible corporate citizen to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, an increased spread of COVID-19 as we gradually release our ships. “

The Hill has reached out to DeSantis and Rivkees for comment.

Norwegian sued Rivkees last month in an attempt to prevent the state from enforcing its vaccine passport ban on businesses.

The Miami-based company claimed the state’s vaccine passport legislation violated the First Amendment because it blocked communication between businesses and customers.

The cruise line also argued that the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it limited the company’s ability to keep its employees and customers safe.

The Norwegian earlier this month, in a virtual hearing, called on a federal judge to block the law banning vaccine passports.

Derek Shaffer, the cruise line’s lawyer, pointed to the peak in COVID-19 infections in Florida as the reason the company should be allowed to require proof of vaccination before boarding a ship.

“It’s scary what’s going on in Florida. Florida is a hot spot, ”Shaffer said, according to the Associated Press. “All we do is try to protect our staff and our passengers.”

He added that the law “should be fatal on arrival,” and said DeSantis and others supported the ban to “score political points.”

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