Judge’s Rule Pokes “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s In The Eye”

Contrary to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) law that prevents “vaccine passports” from being utilized in the state, a judge has ruled that Norwegian Cruise Line is permitted to ask customers to show proof of vaccination before boarding a ship.

According to press reports, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in the Southern District of Florida said that the state law barring the use of vaccine passports is likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment and jeopardizes public health.

The judge ruled that Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, whom Norwegian filed a lawsuit against over the vaccine passport ban, cannot enforce the law with the cruise line, giving Norwegian the green light to carry out its safety measures starting Aug. 15, when the company plans to resume passenger cruises from Florida.

DeSantis signed legislation earlier this year that banned vaccine passports in the state.

Norwegian was pleased with the ruling and noted that allowing vaccinated guests on board is the “safest vacation experience” to resume sailing.

“The public health environment continues to evolve around the globe and our robust science-backed health and safety protocols, with vaccines at its cornerstone, allow us to provide what we believe is the safest vacation experience for people who long to get back to their everyday lives and explore the world once again,” Frank Del Rio, president, and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said in a statement.

Daniel Farkas, executive vice president and general counsel for Norwegian, said the lawsuit was filed “in the best interest of the welfare of our guests, crew and communities we visit in an effort to do our part as responsible corporate citizens to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, further spread of COVID-19 as we gradually relaunch our vessels.”

DeSantis’ office said it disagreed with the judge’s legal reasoning, contending that a ban on vaccine passports does not violate speech rights. The office said it will appeal the decision to the Eleventh Circuit of Appeals.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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