A federal judge ruled in favor of Norwegian Cruise Lines’ vaccine requirement on Sunday, prompting Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to push back against the ruling.
As reported by The Washington Post:
In a 59-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams granted the cruise company’s request for a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its law against so-called vaccine passports. She said the company was likely to prevail on the basis of its claims that the law infringes on its rights to free speech and puts a heavy burden on interstate commerce. And she agreed Norwegian would “suffer significant financial and reputational harms” if the law were to be enforced in the meantime.
Williams reportedly wrote that the company had “demonstrated that public health will be jeopardized if it is required to suspend its vaccination requirement,” but the state’s lawyers had apparently displayed “no public benefit from the continued enforcement” of the law against the cruise line. The cruise line plans to continue the vaccine requirement until at least October 31 of this year.
“The company’s policy of 100% vaccination of guests and crew was in place without issue in every port it sails from around the world except for Florida,” the company said in a statement Sunday. “Despite the ongoing global pandemic and the accelerating spread of the Delta variant, Florida prohibited the company from requiring vaccine documentation which the company believed would enable it to resume sailing in the safest way possible.”
DeSantis’ office told The Daily Wire:
We disagree with the judge’s legal reasoning and will be appealing to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. A prohibition on vaccine passports does not even implicate, let alone violate, anyone’s speech rights, and it furthers the substantial, local interest of preventing discrimination among customers based on private health information.
In May, DeSantis signed a law that took aim at “arbitrary lockdowns, vaccine passports and enhances emergency preparedness for future emergencies.”
The Florida law stated that a company cannot require people to show proof of vaccination in order to get service from a business without potentially having to pay a fine of $5,000 per infraction.
When he signed the bill into law, DeSantis said, “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”
Last month, the cruise company sued the surgeon general of Florida over the law.
“The upshot places NCLH in an impossible dilemma as it prepares to set sail from Florida,” read the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Miami. “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 was requesting that the court allow the ships to continue with the vaccine requirement.
“We believe Florida’s prohibition is on the wrong side of federal law, public health, science and is not in the best interest of the welfare of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit, therefore, we have reluctantly turned to the courts for relief,” the statement reportedly said.
DeSantis has pushed back against vaccine passports in the past. As The Daily Wire previously reported, he voiced his position against such requirements in March before he signed an executive order prohibiting vaccine passports in Florida until the state legislature could create a bill that would ban them from the state permanently.
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