A federal judge Sunday night issued a temporary injunction halting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on Covid vaccine passports for cruises.
A lawsuit was filed by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings last month.
US District Judge Kathleen Williams, an Obama appointee, said DeSantis’ law prohibiting vaccine passports likely violates the First Amendment.
The Washington Times reported:
A federal judge on Sunday halted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before boarding a cruise in a legal battle brought by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
“The statute is a content-based restriction because it singles out documentation regarding a particular subset matter … and subjects it to restrictions … that do not apply to documents regarding other topics,” Judge Williams wrote in her order.
The judge cited the growing number of COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant across the country — and especially in Florida — as a concern for cruises attempting to set sail after being shut down last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Norwegian Cruise Line sued to upend Florida’s ban on requiring vaccine passports before passengers can travel safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic last month.
Mr. DeSantis signed the legislation earlier this year barring companies from asking customers if they have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and it went into effect July 1.
Companies that violate the law can be subject to a $5,000 fine per customer.
DeSantis’ office said they will appeal the ruling to the 11th Circuit.
“We disagree with the judge’s legal reasoning and will be appealing to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. A prohibition on vaccine passports does not even implicate, let alone violate, anyone’s speech rights, and it furthers the substantial, local interest of preventing discrimination among customers based on private health information,” the spokesperson said.
In June, passengers aboard the first 100% vaccinated North American cruise tested positive for Covid-19.
Two passengers on the Celebrity Millennium, which is operated by Royal Caribbean, tested positive for Covid-19 during end-of-cruise testing which is conducted 72 hours before returning to the US.