Court clears Norwegian Cruise Line to use Florida vaccine passports

File image courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Posted on August 9, 2021 at 3:10 am by

The maritime executive

On Saturday, a federal judge ruled in favor of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings in a case against the state of Florida, issuing an injunction to block Florida’s ban on vaccine passports.

Last month, the company filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida seeking to overturn the state’s ban on vaccine passport requirements. In an emergency order issued in April, DeSantis banned Florida businesses “from requiring customers or customers to provide any documentation certifying vaccination against COVID-19 … The state then codified it. The order in law and state officials have interpreted the ban to apply to international cruise ship operations based in Florida.

In July, NCLH asked the court to grant a preliminary injunction to block the state’s ban so it could continue its departures from Florida seaports. The company is looking to use vaccine passports to exceed compliance with CDC rules for resuming cruises, achieve an onboard vaccination rate of 100 percent and meet port of call requirements. He promised he would not leave Florida if the law remained in effect, and he threatened to leave the state entirely.

In a hearing Friday, NCLH attorneys noted that Florida is experiencing an active outbreak of COVID-19 and currently ranks among the top ten states in the country for the number of cases per capita. “It’s scary what’s going on in Florida. Florida is a hot spot. All we do is try to protect our staff and our passengers,” said NCLH attorney Derek Shaffer.

In a ruling on Saturday night, Judge Kathleen M. Williams ruled in favor of the NCLH and issued a temporary injunction to suspend state law. In particular, she highlighted the need for the NCLH to demonstrate compliance with vaccine requirements at other ports of call.

“Amid a myriad of ever-changing quarantine and testing requirements, there is one constant that makes it easier for cruise line customers to access advertised ports of call: Documentary proof of vaccination will speed up the process. entry of passengers into virtually all countries and ports where the plaintiffs intend to sail, ”she wrote. “On the other hand, without documentary evidence of vaccination, protocols vary so dramatically – and change so frequently, especially as the Delta variant becomes more widespread – to make it not only impractical, but also financially, legally, and logistically onerous for cruise lines, like NCLH to comply.

Williams noted that Florida’s ban on vaccine passports would also make it difficult for NCLH to communicate the immunization status of passengers to port state authorities in the event of an emergency, which could hamper a response.

In a statement, NCLH welcomed the decision, noting that Florida is the only jurisdiction in the world to have had an issue with the company’s 100% vaccination policy.

“The health and safety of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit is our number one priority, today, tomorrow and forever,” said President and CEO Frank Del Rio. “We want nothing more than to leave Miami, the cruise capital of the world, and the other fabulous ports in Florida.

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