Judge Sides With Norwegian Cruise Line in suit over vaccination proof in Florida

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A federal judge has for now sided with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. in its bid to invalidate Florida’s rule that bars businesses from requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination from their customers.

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U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in Miami on Sunday granted the cruise operator’s request for a preliminary injunction that prevents the enforcement of the Florida ban on its vessels departing from the state. The company last month sued Florida’s surgeon general, Scott Rivkees, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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"While litigation is a strategic tool of last resort, our company has fought to do what we believe is right and in the best interest of the welfare of our guests, crew and communities we visit," said Daniel Farkas, Norwegian’s general counsel.

The Florida Department of Health and the Florida governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A federal judge has for now sided with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. in its bid to invalidate Florida’s rule that bars businesses from requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination from their customers.REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo

The decision comes as Norwegian is set to offer cruises from Florida to the Caribbean starting Aug. 15. Florida is a cruise hub that in 2019 accounted for about 60% of cruise embarkations from the U.S., according to the industry group Cruise Lines International Association.

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The company is sticking with its policy to require full vaccinations for all crew and passengers, including children, for initial sailings through Oct. 31 after more than a yearlong hiatus and billions of dollars in losses.

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