Judge Rules Norwegian Can Require Proof of COVID Vaccine in Florida

Norwegian Cruise Line will resume sailing from Florida on August 15 - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

A federal judge issued a ruling which will allow Norwegian Cruise Line to require passengers to show proof of COVID vaccination before they board a ship in the state of Florida. According to Reuters, a preliminary ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in Miami said “Norwegian would likely prevail on its argument that the vaccine passport ban, signed into law by DeSantis in May, jeopardizes public health and is an unconstitutional infringement on Norwegian's rights.” This ruling will block Florida Governor Ron DeSantis from enforcing the vaccine passport ban law against the cruise line. 

Norwegian Cruise Line’s newly-instituted health and safety guidelines require that 95% of all passengers sailing with the line have received their full COVID vaccination, and be able to present proof of vaccine prior to sailing. Had the cruise line violated the state’s law with this requirement, there would have been a penalty of $5,000 per passenger. Norwegian Cruise Line is slated to begin sailing from Florida out of PortMiami on August 15, offering 7-night Caribbean cruises on Norwegian Gem

“The health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our number one priority, today, tomorrow and forever,” said Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio. “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.”

Norwegian Cruise Line has already been successfully sailing in the U.S. and Europe this summer. The line resumed operations on July 25, 2021, with the Norwegian Jade departing Athens for a series of 7-day Greek Isles cruises. In the United States, Alaska sailings resumed on August 7 with week-long itineraries roundtrip from Seattle on the Norwegian Bliss

These sailings, as well as future ship restarts by Norwegian, will follow the line’s SailSAFE Health and Safety program guidelines which include: 

1) Safety for guests and crew with vaccination requirements, universal COVID-19 testing, and enhanced health screening protocols.

2) Safety aboard with medical-grade air filtration, increased sanitation measures, and enhanced medical resources.

3) Safety ashore through the collaboration with land-based tour operator partners to extend health and safety measures to each destination. 

This is a breaking news story. We will provide additional updates as they become available.

Source: Reuters, CNBC

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