Judge allows Norwegian cruises to require vaccinations, despite Florida law
Norwegian Cruise Line is setting sail out of Florida for the first time in 15 months next week, and all its passengers will need to prove they’re vaccinated.
A Florida judge issued a preliminary injunction Aug. 8 that will allow Norwegian to require guests to show proof of vaccination prior to boarding—going against a state law that bars businesses from doing so, according to the court filing. Norwegian had sued the surgeon general of Florida over the law last month, asserting that the law against requiring proof of vaccination would pose “imminent, substantial, irreparable harms” to its business.
“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,” Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said in a statement issued Sunday.
The Florida statute is part of a law signed in early May that prohibits businesses from requiring proof of vaccination for service or entry and subjects businesses to a $5,000 fine for each violation. That law was an extension of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive order in April.
Meanwhile, polls show that most consumers prefer that vaccinations be required aboard. After seeing their revenue plummet by the billions during the pandemic, cruise lines have been implementing rigorous safety precautions and procedures to make customers feel comfortable and safe aboard.
For the Aug. 15 departure of the Norwegian Gem from Miami, all guests will be required to be vaccinated at least two weeks prior to departure. (Minors, too, are required to show proof of vaccination, even though the vaccines are not yet available for children under 12.) There will be free testing and health screening prior to embarking, according to the company. Norwegian expects to be operating eight of its ships—at 40% capacity—by the end of September, and hopes to have 17 setting sail by the end of 2021, according to executive statements made on its earnings call Aug. 6.
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