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US judge rules Norwegian cruises can require proof of vaccination

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Posted: Monday, August 9, 2021. 11:56 am CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: In the United States, a federal judge has ruled in favor of Norwegian Cruise Line and against a Florida State law that prohibits cruise lines requiring passengers to show proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The judge said the Florida law appears unconstitutional and more than likely will not hold up in court said the Associated Press.

“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,” said Frank Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise line president and CEO.

When cruise lines started demanding that passengers should be vaccinated to go on cruises, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law referred to as the “vaccine passport” ban. United States District Judge Kathleen Williams ruled the law does not protect medical privacy or nor does it prevent discrimination against unvaccinated people but said that it does appear to violate the First Amendment rights of Norwegian Cruise Lines.

In her ruling the judge said Florida failed to provide enough evidence and legal basis for banning the cruise lines’ requirements that passengers prove they have been vaccinated.

Norwegian claimed not requiring passengers to be vaccinated goes against public health as it may cause ‘super spreaders’ wherever passengers disembark. Moreover, Norwegian pointed out that that the cruise ships travel to different countries with different requirements which are constantly changing and that already some countries like Belize, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands and Honduras require proof of vaccination to enter without having to go into quarantines or without requiring COBVID-19 testing. Proving Norwegian’s point about continuously changing requirements, Belize is now requiring all passengers to provide COVID-19 tests regardless of vaccination status.

Norwegian said the company has lost $6 billion due to the pandemic as it has had to dock its entire 28-vessel fleet meaning that they also had to send nearly 30,000 crew members home. The cruise line added that each cruise they cancel costs them $4 million, said judge Williams.

Florida has said it will appeal the ruling. In the meantime, Norwegian will set sail from Miami on Sunday for the first time since it stopped its operation due to the pandemic.

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