PATRICK CLARKE | TravelPulse.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #Travel
Florida will appeal a federal judge’s ruling allowing Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings—whose brands include Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises—to require passengers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 prior to boarding its ships.
If upheld, the ruling “would likely allow all cruise lines in Florida the ability to ask for proof of vaccination status,” a Cruise Lines International Association spokesperson told Travel Weekly.
“We disagree with the judge’s legal reasoning and will be appealing to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said in a statement. “A prohibition on vaccine passportsdoes not even implicate, let alone violate, anyone’s speech rights, and it furthers the substantial, local interest of preventing discrimination among customers based on private health information.”
In a preliminary ruling issued on Sunday, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams claimed that the state failed to “provide a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate” for banning proof of vaccination and that the cruise company “demonstrated that public health will be jeopardized if it is required to suspend its vaccination requirement.”
Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio welcomed the ruling that “allows us to sail with 100 percent fully vaccinated guests and crew which we believe is the safest and most prudent way to resume cruise operations amid this global pandemic.”
Norwegian’s first sailing from Florida since the cruise industry suspended operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak early last year is scheduled to depart from Miami on Sunday, August 15.
Sunday’s ruling comes one month after Norwegian sued Florida over its ban on businesses asking for vaccine proof. Earlier this year, the state won its appeals ruling against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the Eleventh Circuit Court reversing its earlier decision and siding with Florida against the CDC’s No-Sail Orders.
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