MIAMI (AP) — A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Florida law that prevents cruise lines from requiring passengers to prove they're vaccinated against COVID-19.
The judge says it appears unconstitutional and won’t likely hold up in court.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the ban on so-called “vaccine passports,” saying he wants to protect medical privacy and prevent discrimination.
However, Judge Kathleen Williams says it fails to protect people even as it appears to violate the free speech rights of cruise lines.
She says Norwegian Cruise Lines has shown that without proof of vaccination, cruising will jeopardize public health by potentially causing “super-spreader” events wherever passengers disembark.
In a statement released after the judge’s ruling, Norwegian said the order will allow it to operate in the safest way possible with 100% vaccination of all guests and crew when sailing from Florida ports.
The Company’s first sailing from Florida is scheduled for Aug. 15, 2021, with the Norwegian Gem departing from Miami.
“We want nothing more than to sail from Miami, the Cruise Capital of the World, and from the other fabulous Florida ports and we welcome today’s ruling that allows us to sail with 100% fully vaccinated guests and crew which we believe is the safest and most prudent way to resume cruise operations amid this global pandemic,” wrote Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “The public health environment continues to evolve around the globe and our robust science-backed health and safety protocols, with vaccines at its cornerstone, allow us to provide what we believe is the safest vacation experience for people who long to get back to their everyday lives and explore the world once again.”