- Norwegian Cruise Line threatened to skip all stops in Florida to avoid potentially unvaccinated customers.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order last month prohibiting businesses from mandating COVID-19 vaccines.
- Norwegian Cruise Line announced last month that all passengers aboard must be vaccinated.
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A popular cruise line is threatening to avoid stops in Florida in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ruling that businesses cannot mandate that customers be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is among several cruise lines that have announced some form of a vaccine requirement. The company requires that all passengers aboard be vaccinated against the virus.
The Associated Press reported that Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio said on a quarterly earnings call last week that the state’s policy could affect the cruise line’s routes along the Caribbean islands.
“We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that,” Del Rio said, adding that the company is in conversation with DeSantis’ office.
The governor banned vaccine passports in an executive order issued April 2. The order also prohibits local businesses from mandating that customers show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus.
The ban extends to cruise lines as well, DeSantis’ press secretary, Cody McCloud, said.
“The Governor’s Executive Order provides that businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business,” McCloud told Insider in an email.
“Therefore, the Executive Order prohibits cruise lines from requiring vaccine passports for their Florida operations,” McCloud added.
The US government has indicated that it won’t mandate that people get vaccinated against the virus as a federal body. But entities like small businesses, restaurants, gyms, and other public venues might require proof of vaccination – a so-called vaccine passport – for entry or participation. Individuals hoping to travel out of the country might also need to show proof of vaccination.
“It is a classic state-versus-federal-government issue,” Del Rio said, according to the AP. “Lawyers believe that federal law applies and not state law, but I’m not a lawyer. And we hope that this doesn’t become a legal football or a political football.”
About 32% of all Florida residents are fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times vaccine tracker. That’s roughly in line with the rate of the US as a whole. About 33% of the US population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to CDC data.