Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sues Florida over ban

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The battle over the need for vaccinations for travel heats up.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sued Florida’s surgeon general on Tuesday, accusing the situation of preventing him from continuing his “safe and healthy” travels. prevent customers from requesting to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Filing represents the latest twist on a subject. months of fighting on the resumption of cruises from Florida, a hub for industry. Under government Ron DeSantis, the state has combated vaccine requirements by cruises and other businesses, claiming that such policies are discriminatory. Supporters of the vaccine requirements argued that vaccines were necessary to protect public health.

Businesses that force customers to provide proof of vaccination could face fines of up to $5,000 per violation, according to a state law approved in May. Norway said it had to sue the state’s chief surgeon, Scott Rivkees, “as a last resort” in its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

“An abnormal, misguided intrusion would disrupt NCLH’s careful planning and force it to cancel or disrupt upcoming cruises, thereby jeopardizing and disrupting passengers’ experiences and causing massive irreparable harm,” the company said in the lawsuit.

The Norwegian claims that Florida’s ban does not apply because it circumvents federal law and violates several provisions of the Constitution, including the First Amendment. Neither Norway nor the Florida Department of Health immediately responded to requests for comment.

After banning cruises about a year and a half ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would allow cruises to hit the road again in the fall. The agency then developed a set of stringent requirements that cruise ships must comply with.

Florida sued the CDC, arguing that the health agency had exceeded its authority to set these standards. In June, federal judge temporarily prevented the agency from enforcing the rules in the state while the case was pending. Later that month, Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of the Royal Caribbean Group, embarked on the first major cruise from a US port since the pandemic beganDeparting from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Norway hopes to restart cruises from Miami on August 15.

The industry was devastated by the pandemic last year, with passenger numbers dropping by 80 percent compared to 2019. According to a recent study, the three major cruise companies – Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean and Norway – have lost a total of $900 million each month since March 2020. Report by credit rating agency Moody’s.

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