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 that customers and employees be vaccinated against Covid- 19.
The lawsuit is a “last resort” after the state “said it was otherwise preventing NCLH from resuming safely and soundly, according to the complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida by Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings. of passengers ”.
The cruise line intends to request documents confirming the vaccination status of passengers before boarding.
In his complaint, he says state law places him “in an impossible dilemma as he prepares to leave Florida: NCLH will find itself on either the wrong side of health and safety and the legal framework. federal law, or on the wrong side. Florida law side ”.
The company names the surgeon general, Dr Scott Rivkees, as the defendant, in his capacity as “state official”, and asks the court to both grant a preliminary injunction to allow him to resume navigation with the protocols in place, and invalidate the Florida Statute.
NCLH cruises are scheduled to resume navigation from Florida ports on August 15. It suspended all operations of its three brands around the world in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, he called Florida law “debilitating for the entire cruise community.”
“The rapid deployment of vaccines has been the primary means for people to safely resume their daily lives while containing the spread of the virus,” said a representative.
NCLH said it has invested in a health and safety program developed with public health experts to ensure it can keep the virus at bay, especially given the spread of the Delta variant in Florida. and the United States.
Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order in April banning the use of “vaccine passports,” or documents proving someone received the vaccine. It entered into force on May 3.
“In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no company or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision,” DeSantis said.
On Wednesday, a Florida Department of Health aide said media representatives were unavailable for comment. An email to the agency was not immediately answered.
In May, NCLH chief executive Frank Del Rio said Florida law could cause the company to relocate, according to CNN.
“At the end of the day cruise ships have engines and propellers and rudders, and God forbid, we can’t operate in the state of Florida for any reason, so there are other states that we operate from, and we can operate from the Caribbean for a ship that otherwise would have gone to Florida, ”he said.
The passengers appear to want to be among the other people who have been vaccinated. A May 2021 survey of more than 5,000 Cruisecritic.com readers found that 80% of likely passengers preferred to resume navigation on vessels requiring vaccinations, according to Dr. Jukka Laitamaki, clinical professor at the Jonathan M Tisch Center of Hospitality At New York. University.
Laitamaki mentioned the statistic in a statement filed with the court in support of NCLH. Of those 80%, he wrote, 89% said they felt safer while sailing on a ship with other vaccinated travelers. Laitamaki also revealed that he was being paid $ 500 an hour for being viewed on the costume.