Norwegian cruise company sues Florida over ban on Covid vaccine passports

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A Norwegian cruise ship company has filed a federal lawsuit against the Florida surgeon general, over a state law that prohibits companies from asking or requiring customers and employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

According to the complaint filed in the southern district of Florida by Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings, the suit is a “last resort” after the state “indicated it is otherwise preventing NCLH from safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations”.

The cruise line intends to ask for documentation confirming guests’ vaccination status before boarding.

In its complaint, it says the state law places it “in an impossible dilemma as it prepares to set sail from Florida: NCLH will find itself either on the wrong side of health and safety and the operative federal legal framework, or else on the wrong side of Florida law”.

The company names the surgeon general, Dr Scott Rivkees, as defendant, in his capacity as “the responsible state official”, and asks the court both to grant a preliminary injunction to allow it to resume sailing with protocols in place, and to invalidate the Florida statute.

NCLH cruises are set to resume sailing from Florida ports on 15 August. It suspended all operations across its three brands worldwide in March 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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 3 May.

Photo: The Norwegian Spirit cruise ship. EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER

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