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Norwegian Cruise tells judge Florida 'vaccine passport' ban is political

Stock MarketsAug 07, 2021 12:11AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The cruise ship Norwegian Dawn of the Norwegian Cruise Line departs the Royal Naval Dockyard July 16, 2013 near the port of Hamilton, Bermuda. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) -Norwegian Cruise Line argued to a federal judge on Friday that Florida had banned "vaccine passports" to score political points and said the company should be allowed to require proof of COVID-19 shots from passengers when it sails from the state this month.

The cruise line is scheduled for its first post-pandemic cruise from Miami on Aug. 15 and has committed to health authorities that at least 95% of travelers will be vaccinated.

Those plans, however, collided with the Florida ban that was touted by Governor Ron DeSantis, a leading national figure against what he says has been government overreach in fighting the pandemic.

Florida's law forbids businesses, government entities and schools from requiring proof of COVID-19 immunity in return for a service. The law has certain exceptions, such as for healthcare.

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

"They want to score political points for one side in a raging debate over whether people should be vaccinated," Derek Shaffer said.

The court battle comes as big business and some government entities are responding to the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus with vaccination requirements, prompting legal challenges from vaccine skeptics and civil libertarians.

The judge pressed a lawyer for the state to explain the problem facing Florida consumers that lawmakers were trying to fix. "We don't want them to carry vaccine documentation to access the economic marketplace," said Pete Patterson, the state's lawyer.

SAILING AWAY

Williams, who was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama, also questioned why lawmakers didn't ban companies from mandating shots for their workers."

"Don’t you think it’s odd the statute doesn’t worry about discrimination of the state’s employees who are here in Florida but is focused on patrons of a business, who in this case, are sailing away to other ports of call?" she said.

Norwegian could be fined up to $5,000 for each passenger denied boarding because they did not provide proof of immunity.

The law essentially codified an executive order signed in April by DeSantis, who is staunchly against COVID-19 restrictions, even as the Republican governor's state has become a hotbed of infections https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-covid-19-cases-hit-six-month-high-over-100000-reuters-tally-2021-08-05 with hospitalizations at record levels.

Norwegian is ramping up its return to cruises, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shut down in March 2020 with its "No Sail" order.

On Saturday, Norwegian will make its first post-pandemic sailing from a U.S. port with an Alaska cruise from Seattle.

In order to sail, Norwegian has attested to the CDC it would confirm passengers have been vaccinated.

"Our policy of 100% vaccinations, coupled with preboarding testing of guests and routine testing of crew, is in place without issue in the nearly 500 ports we sail to and from around the world, except Florida ports," said the company's CEO Frank Del Rio said on an earnings call on Friday.

The company said on Friday it is seeing pent-up demand for 2022 cruises.

Norwegian Cruise tells judge Florida 'vaccine passport' ban is political
 

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Comments (14)
chris norris
chris norris Aug 08, 2021 1:36PM ET
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There are lots of people who work in the health field who do not want to get the Vaccine either, So that everybody can win and be happy why don't we just have separate restaurant, shopping centers, hospitals, and cruises for those who are vaccinated and for all those who are not.
ZS Beck
ZS Beck Aug 07, 2021 9:22AM ET
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2 face De Santis. He and his whole family are vaccinated including his children. With his law degree doesn't know anything about silences or not even about a simple flu virus, but he’s telling everyone not to wear a mask and not even urging everybody to get the vaccine? Madness. Why not banning companies requiring vaccines from the workers and only vaccine cards? It’s the same.
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar Aug 07, 2021 9:22AM ET
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Inconsistency is the hobnob of a simple mind
Mad Money
Mad Money Aug 07, 2021 3:13AM ET
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What else can you expect from Repubicans
Necleus Electron
Necleus Electron Aug 07, 2021 2:46AM ET
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That is the problem with republicans, going against just for the sake of opposing, they just wanna go against anything what other camp does. From election-global trade-vaccination-immigration-etc. Republicans simply dont care if it benefits people/country. For goodness sake, they shouldnt exist in the first place.
Meow Mowe
Meow Mowe Aug 07, 2021 2:43AM ET
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As like the Norwegian cruise company could speak one individual voice.. Wondering who is really behind those statements
Zack Persie
Zack Persie Aug 07, 2021 2:28AM ET
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Republican busy committing genocide in the country.
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar Aug 07, 2021 2:28AM ET
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What do you do for an encore? let me guess ...attack Trump
Options Trader
Options Trader Aug 07, 2021 12:31AM ET
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This is like telling people they cannot use the roads because they don't use a seat belt. If you're wearing a seat belt, who cares. Commies.
William Bailey
William Bailey Aug 07, 2021 12:31AM ET
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Nope, this is a private company, with private assets, saying you cannot come on to the premises without a vaccination. Remember “ No shies, no shirt no service” . Why are you trumpers so stupid
joe morgan
joe morgan Aug 07, 2021 12:31AM ET
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William Bailey  what if they say no homosexuals or blacks?  my medical history is not for your data set.  thank you.
Mike Mike
Mike Mike Aug 06, 2021 5:49PM ET
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Don't wear masks. Let those unvaccinated adults get the worst covid.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Aug 06, 2021 2:02PM ET
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Medical police state. Welcome to the new normal. Dark winter coming.
Tom Lemon
Tom Lemon Aug 06, 2021 2:02PM ET
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wrong.
john doe
batman876 Aug 06, 2021 8:23AM ET
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Who is at risk? The unvaccinated person or the vaccinated person? Why force people to get a vaccine?
ZS Beck
ZS Beck Aug 06, 2021 8:23AM ET
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Don't co to cruising, if you don't want the vaccine, simple is that. I'm on the cruise side on this one. They almost went belly up. They don't want to risk the business, because few people are unvaccinated.
John Avenetti
John Avenetti Aug 06, 2021 8:23AM ET
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medical dictatorship
Sir Nelson
Sir Nelson Aug 06, 2021 8:13AM ET
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Then don’t go to Florida, see how that works
John Avenetti
John Avenetti Aug 06, 2021 7:46AM ET
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medical dictatorship
Gyula Horvath
Gyula Horvath Aug 06, 2021 7:29AM ET
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.....game over.........
Jozef Drozd
Jozef Drozd Aug 06, 2021 6:59AM ET
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No PCR test can detect Delta variant , so it is impossible to test everybody for this specific variant .
Rosta Pilny
Raasta Aug 06, 2021 6:59AM ET
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Yes it can.
Tom Lemon
Tom Lemon Aug 06, 2021 6:59AM ET
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wrong
 
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