Judge temporarily allows cruise line to require proof of vaccination in Florida.
A federal judge on Sunday granted Norwegian Cruise Line’s request for a preliminary injunction, temporarily allowing the company to require proof of passenger vaccination despite a Florida law that prohibits companies from doing so.
The injunction, in a lawsuit the company filed last month against Dr. Scott Rivkees, Florida surgeon general and head of the Florida Department of Health, is the latest development in an ongoing battle for the cruise industry. .
The preliminary injunction is likely to attract a backlash from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed state law in May that fines companies that require customers to provide proof of vaccination.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday evening. Norwegian’s next cruise ship to leave Florida is scheduled for August 15, departing from Miami.
In a statement on Sunday, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said the move would allow it “to operate in the safest possible manner.”
“We welcome today’s decision that allows us to sail with 100% fully vaccinated guests and crew, which we believe is the safest and most prudent way to resume operations. cruising in the midst of this global pandemic, ”said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO.
In the order, United States District Court Judge Kathleen Williams listed several reasons for granting the request for a preliminary injunction. Among them, Judge Williams cited the potential for the cruise line to suffer financially if Norwegian is forced to cancel trips or reorient around Florida. She also noted that “Scientific research shows that cruise lines are hotbeds for the transmission of Covid-19”.
Judge Williams wrote that “the defendant does not articulate or provide any evidence of the harm the state would suffer if an injunction were granted”, and added that Norwegian “has demonstrated that public health will be compromised if it is held to suspend his vaccination obligation. “
A preliminary injunction usually remains in effect until there is a final decision in a lawsuit.
In a statement, Daniel S. Farkas, executive vice president and legal counsel for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said the litigation was “a strategic tool of last resort.”
“Our company has fought to do what we believe is right and in the best interests of the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit in order to do our part as a good corporate citizen. responsible for minimizing, to the extent possible, further spread of Covid-19 as we gradually release our ships, ”Farkas said.
The judge’s order came as coronavirus cases rose sharply in Florida. In the past two weeks, cases in the state have increased 84% and hospitalizations have increased 105%, according to data from the New York Times.
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