Norwegian Cruise Line tells judge that Florida’s “vaccine passport” ban is political Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Dawn cruise ship leaves the Royal Navy Shipyard near Hamilton Harbor in Bermuda on July 16, 2013.REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo

By Tom Hals

(Reuters)-Norwegian Cruise Line argued to a federal judge on Friday that Florida has banned the use of “vaccine passports” to obtain political points, and said it should allow the company to request passengers to provide COVID-19 when sailing from the state this year Proof of injection. moon.

The cruise ship is scheduled for its first voyage after the pandemic from Miami on August 15 and has promised health authorities that at least 95% of its passengers will be vaccinated.

However, these plans conflict with the ban touted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a leading figure in the country who opposes what he says the government is doing in the fight against the pandemic. Excessive behavior.

Florida law prohibits businesses, government entities, and schools from requesting proof of COVID-19 immunity in exchange for services. There are certain exceptions to the law, such as health care.

A Norwegian lawyer told Kathleen Williams, the U.S. District Judge, that lawmakers never intended to prevent discrimination or protect privacy.

“In the heated debate about whether people should be vaccinated, they want to win political points for one party,” Derek Schaefer said.

The lawsuit started at a time when large companies and some government entities responded to the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus with vaccination requirements, which triggered legal challenges from vaccine skeptics and civil libertarians.

The judge asked the state’s lawyers to explain the problems facing Florida consumers that the lawmakers were trying to solve. “We don’t want them to bring vaccine documents into the economic market,” said State attorney Pete Patterson.

Set sail

Williams, appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama, also questioned why legislators did not prohibit companies from requiring employee injections. “

“Don’t you find it strange that the regulations don’t worry about discrimination against state employees here in Florida, but the focus is on corporate customers. In this case, they are sailing to other ports of call?” she said.

Norwegians may be fined up to $5,000 per passenger who is denied boarding for failing to provide an exemption certificate.

The law basically codifies the executive order signed by DeSantis in April. He firmly opposes the restrictions of COVID-19, even if the state where the Republican governor is located has become a hotbed of infection -covid-19-cases-hit-6-month-high-over-100000-reuters-tally-2021-08-05 The number of hospitalizations hit a record high.

Norwegian Air is speeding up the resumption of navigation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ordered the closure of the “No Navigation” order in March 2020.

On Saturday, Norwegian Air will depart from Seattle and take an Alaska cruise ship from a US port for its first voyage after the pandemic.

In order to set sail, the Norwegian has certified to the CDC that it will confirm that passengers have been vaccinated.

The company’s CEO Frank Del Except ports.” Rio Tinto said on Friday’s earnings call.

The company said on Friday that demand for cruise ships in 2022 will be suppressed.

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