Last Sunday, a federal judge ruled in favor of Norwegian Cruise Lines to temporarily suspend a Florida law from implementation. The law prohibits businesses from discriminating against customers who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Proof of Vaccination Required By Norwegian Cruise Lines
The preliminary injunction allows Norwegian Cruise Lines to continue requiring passengers proof of vaccination. Otherwise, the cruise operator won't allow them to board. The cruise operator’s crew also needs to complete their vaccination prior to going on duty.
US District Judge Kathleen Williams granted the preliminary injunction. This allows Norwegian to accept Florida passengers to screen passengers while the case prepares to go on trial.
The ship Norwegian Gem announced it will depart Miami by August 15. It’s the company’s first trip out of Florida since the pandemic started over a year ago. Cruise lines were among the first to fall during the lockdown. The federal government suspended all travel in order to cut down on breakouts.
Norwegian Cruise Lines Wants to Ensure Safety Of Passengers and Crew
Derek Shaffer, an attorney for Norwegian Cruise Line, attended the court hearing held Friday that requested the injunction. “It’s scary what’s happening in Florida. All of Florida is a hot spot,” he said. “All we’re doing is trying to protect our staff and passengers,” the lawyer added.
Meanwhile, Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio said they are doing their best to ensure the safety of passengers and crew. He issued a statement on behalf of the company last Sunday.
“The health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our number one priority, today, tomorrow, and forever. it's not a slogan or a tagline, we fiercely mean it and our commitment to these principles is demonstrated by the lengths our Company has gone through to provide the safest possible cruise experience from Florida,” the statement read.
COVID-19 Experiencing A Surge In Florida
During the past seven days, COVID-19 Infection levels in Florida rose over 51%, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Between July 30 to August 5, the state reported 134,506 new Covid cases. This is more than any other 7-day period tracked by Johns Hopkins. In addition, new case positivity is now at 18.9%.
Meanwhile, Florida attorney Pete Patterson insisted that the state law aimed to protect customer’s civil liberties. It also prevents businesses from discriminating against the unvaccinated.
“You can’t discriminate against customers on the basis of their refusal to give you information,” Patterson said. If not for the injunction, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ continued insistence to request proof of vaccination would get them in trouble. Florida can take the company to court for prosecution. It can also impose fines of up to $5,000 per passenger.
However, NCL’s Shaffer said that no business can afford Florida’s penalties. He said that “no cruise line in Norwegian’s position can afford to withstand” a fine of that amount. THen, Shaffer proceeded to claim that the Florida legislature just wanted ”political points” when they passed the bill into law.
However, if the judges ultimately rule the legality of Florida’s law, Norwegian and other cruise lines will likely cancel upcoming cruises. Shaffer also said that they can also “sail in ways that are worse for our passengers and crew.”
Watch the CNBC Television video reporting that Norwegian Cruise Line sues Florida surgeon general over vaccine policy:
Do you agree or disagree with Florida’s ban on showing proof of vaccination? Why do you think Florida wants to implement this?
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