Judge Blocks Ron DeSantis Attempt To Block Vaccine Passports

(PresidentialWire.com)- Florida’s fight against vaccine passports was just dealt a big blow this week.

Kathleen Williams, a U.S. District Judge based out of Miami, ruled in favor of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. in their fight to require all passengers show proof in writing that they had a COVID-19 vaccine before they board any one of their ships.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had earlier issued an order that banned all usage of the so-called “vaccine passports.” Norwegian was arguing that the order DeSantis signed back in May that banned proof of vaccination jeopardized public health and was also an infringement on the company’s constitutional rights.

In her ruling, Williams blocked DeSantis’ order from going into effect. It allows Norwegian to begin operating out of the port of Miami as of August 15 again, and requiring proof of vaccination from all passengers.

DeSantis’ ban on vaccine passports came with a per-passenger penalty of $5,000. That could have added up to millions of dollars in fines for every cruise that departed from a Florida port.

The ruling sides with many liberal governments and even big businesses that are starting to require vaccination against COVID-19 as the Delta variant is causing a spike in new infections. Many groups have challenged some of these laws, and the same has happened on the other side of the argument.

Following Williams’ decision, Daniel Farkas, Norwegian’s executive vice president, released a statement that said:

“We are pleased that Judge Williams saw the facts, the law and the science as we did and granted the Company’s motion for preliminary injunction allowing us to operate cruises from Florida with 100% vaccinated guests and crew.”

Health regulations are requiring that at least 95% of all passengers are vaccinated to depart. Norwegian argued the law that Florida had passed would prevent them with complying with the law.

For his part, DeSantis has argued in the past that his law actually protects privacy and prevents discrimination from happening. He says it prevents schools, governments or businesses from demanding any proof of vaccination in return for a service.

Since March of 2020, cruise lines have been prohibited from sailing from any American port because of a “No Sail” order that was given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before it was given the go-ahead to start sailing again, Norwegian had to confirm to the CDC that it would have at least 95% of all passengers vaccinated before they boarded.

Because of the requirement from the CDC, Norwegian argued that Florida’s law violated their First Amendment right to interact with their customers. They also argued it doesn’t prevent discrimination because Norwegian would’ve had to mask and segregate passengers who refused to prove they had received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Florida’s argument was Norwegian could’ve sought approval through the CDC to run simulated voyages while also applying other pandemic protocols such as requiring masks indoors. Other cruise lines have gone that route to set sail from Florida.