Documents filed by Norwegian Cruise Line's parent company allege that the "threat" of the ban on COVID-19 vaccine verification "imperils all of NCLH's employees, passengers, and operations around the world"

By Jen Juneau
July 14, 2021 10:00 AM
The Norwegian cruise line
Norwegian Cruise Line
| Credit: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is fighting a Florida state law that prevents cruise companies from requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to board.

According to court documents filed Tuesday, the powerhouse cruise line company is suing Florida Surgeon General Scott A. Rivkees "as a last resort after the State of Florida has indicated that it is otherwise preventing NCLH from safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations from Miami, Florida, starting August 15, 2021, in the way that this cruise line has determined will be best for all concerned — with the benefit of documentation confirming that all of its passengers and crew have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19."

The filing comes after the state's Gov. Ron DeSantis banned businesses from requiring COVID-19 "vaccination passports" or any other proof of vaccine from its customers. The law went into effect on July 1, according to Forbes.

Norwegian said in their filing that they're "duty-bound to protect the health and safety of its personnel and passengers [by] requiring proof of vaccinations, yet NCLH cannot afford to expose itself to prosecution by Florida and crushing penalties of up to $5,000 per passenger, as it would by requiring vaccine documentation in the present posture."

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Vaccination Record
COVID-19 vaccination record
| Credit: Getty Images

The company went on to allege that "Florida's Ban on vaccine verification poses imminent, substantial, irreparable harms to NCLH's business."

"No other port or jurisdiction visited by NCLH imposes any such Ban on vaccine documentation," Norwegian said. "Only Florida is bidding to constrain NCLH in this critical respect, yet the resulting threat imperils all of NCLH's employees, passengers, and operations around the world."

"Risk of exposure to COVID-19 will invariably tick up if NCLH is denied the ability to verify through documentation that all passengers have been fully vaccinated," the cruise line argued. "The inability to verify vaccination status will hobble NCLH's ability to attract, assure and protect passengers."

A statement from DeSantis' administration, obtained by Politico, alleged that Norwegian had "made the disappointing and unlawful choice to join the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] in discriminating against children and other individuals who cannot be vaccinated or who have opted not to be vaccinated for reasons of health, religion, or conscience."

Man refuses to receive the vaccine
Man refusing vaccine
| Credit: Getty Images

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The filing comes as the virus' highly contagious Delta variant recently became the most dominant strain of COVID-19 circulating in the country.

Government data analyzed by the Associated Press late last month also found that the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 in the U.S. are now being reported in people who haven't been vaccinated against the virus.

As of Wednesday morning, about 184.5 million Americans (55.6% of the total population) have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 159.7 million (48.1%) are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

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