Norwegian Cruise might require Florida passengers to get vaccinated, based on choose guidelines
Norwegian Dawn from Norwegian Cruise Line
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Norwegian Cruise Line announced Sunday that a federal judge ruled to temporarily suspend enforcement of a law in Florida that prohibits companies from requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination.
US District Judge Kathleen Williams issued the injunction that allows Norwegian to request vaccine documents from customers on their August 15 cruise while the case is in court. That date will mark the company’s first trip out of the state since the pandemic brought the cruise industry to a standstill.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the infection rate in Florida has increased 51% in the past seven days. The state reported 134,506 new Covid cases from July 30 to August 5, more than any other 7-day period tracked by the JHU, and the positivity of new cases is 18.9%.
“It’s scary what’s happening in Florida,” said Derek Shaffer, an attorney for Norwegian Cruise Line, during a trial Friday. “All of Florida is a hot spot … All we do is protect our employees and passengers.”
Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio said the company is trying to keep passengers and crew members safe.
“The whole industry wants to do this, and the whole industry requires mostly vaccinated passengers and [is] allowed except in the cruise capital of the world, which is a little ironic. But we’ll see what happens in the next few days, “Del Rio said at a press conference on Friday.
Florida attorney Pete Patterson said the law protects customers’ civil liberties and prevents companies from discriminating against unvaccinated people.
“You can’t discriminate against customers for refusing to give you information,” Patterson said.
Had the cruise not received the injunction and continued to request proof of vaccination, it could have been prosecuted under Florida law and fined up to $ 5,000 per passenger.
In his argument, Shaffer said that “no cruise line in Norwegian ‘s position can afford” to withstand a fine of this magnitude. Shaffer claimed Florida lawmakers wanted “political points” in the vaccination debate.
If the law stays in place, the cruise operator could be forced to cancel upcoming cruises or “sail in a way that’s worse for our passengers and crew,” Shaffer said.
Norwegian Cruise Line filed a lawsuit against the Florida surgeon general in July to challenge the law.
Norwegian attorney said the company had waited to file the lawsuit pending a federal appeals court ruling on another Florida case against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The court sided with Florida, which claimed the CDC’s cruise ship regulations were too burdensome and cost millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.
The cruise operator plans that all guests and crew members on its trips are fully vaccinated and must have Covid-19 tests before embarkation.
“The company has not been able to come to an amicable solution with the state of Florida that would allow them to request proof of guests’ vaccination status prior to boarding Florida cruises,” said Norwegian Cruise Line on Friday .
On Friday, Norwegian announced that its second quarter loss rose to $ 717.8 million, or $ 1.94 per share, on revenue from $ 4.37 million. The company expects further losses until the shipping company can resume its regular trips.