Norwegian Cruise Line owner sues over Florida vaccination policy

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has issued a legal challenge against a Florida law prohibiting companies from requiring customers and employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The company filed the action ahead of its planned return to sailing fro ports in the state from August 15 after the pandemic forced the suspension of operations in March 2020.

The firm has called on the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida to invalidate Florida’s prohibition and to grant a preliminary injunction to allow it to resume sailing with “stringent health and safety protocols to minimise, to the greatest extent possible, further spread of Covid-19”.

The owner of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises described the swift deployment of vaccines as being “the primary vehicle for people to safely get back to their everyday lives while containing the spread of the virus”.

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NCLH added: “With our extensive planning and preparation, we are ready to resume sailing from Florida ports on August 15, 2021.

“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts we have been unable to reach a reasonable and mutually agreeable solution with the state of Florida that would allow us to require documentation confirming guests’ vaccination status prior to boarding.

“Despite the ongoing global pandemic and the accelerating spread of the Delta variant, Florida continues to prohibit us from requiring vaccine documentation which we believe would enable us to resume sailing in the safest way possible.

“We believe Florida’s prohibition is on the wrong side of federal law, public health, science and is not in the best interest of the welfare of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit, therefore, we have reluctantly turned to the courts for relief.

“Our policy of 100% vaccination of guests and crew is consistent and in place without issue in every port we sail from around the world except for Florida.

“Florida is the cruise capital of the world and has been our company’s home since our founding in 1966 and we pride ourselves on continuing our good relations and contributions to our local community.

“It gives us no pleasure to be pursuing this lawsuit, which was our last resort. Nothing takes priority over the health and safety of our guest, crew and the communities we visit; our commitment to them is paramount.”

Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning the use of “vaccine passports”, or documentation proving someone has received the vaccine, in April. It went into effect on May 3.

He said: “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”

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