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DeSantis snubs NCL in doubling down on vaccine passport ban

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'The major cruise lines — and Norwegian's not one of the bigger ones, by the way — have been operating in other parts of the world where there's no access to vaccine' or a cruise vaccination mandate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida had a 'great hearing' in federal court about its lawsuit that seeks to immediately end the CDC's cruise shutdown and insisted lines don't need to require COVID-19 vaccination to operate safely.

'We think we got our points across. We think the judge was receptive,' DeSantis said about the hearing before Steven D. Merryday of US federal court in Tampa. 

A decision on Florida's request for injunctive relief is awaited after Merryday heard arguments from the state and from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

Vaccine passport ban

But Florida, by the governor's order, prohibits private companies from requiring documentation of COVID-19 vaccination, putting operators like Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings in a bind. NCLH mandates 100% crew and passenger vaccination. 

President and CEO Frank Del Rio has warned his ships may be forced to resume sailing from states that don't block vaccine documentation, or from the Caribbean, adding his hope the issue wouldn't become a legal or political football.

'Fake narratives'

At a news conference Thursday, DeSantis called this an example of 'fake narratives' and said 'the major cruise lines — and Norwegian's not one of the bigger ones, by the way — have been operating in other parts of the world where there's no access to vaccine' or with a vaccination mandate, including places where COVID is currently more prevalent than in the US.

'Cruise lines are ready, willing and able to sail from the state of Florida,' the governor said. 'We are the No. 1 destination for people who want to come and take cruises.'

As for an injunction to end the cruise ban, DeSantis said: 'We'll see what happens, but these cruise lines are ready to go: Royal Caribbean, Carnival ...

'... Our state policy is our state policy ... If one of the smaller [lines] decides they don't want to go, that niche will get filled in Florida.'

 

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