After banning vaccine passports from the Sunshine State by law and by executive order, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is now tasked with bringing the cruise ship industry, a proponent of such passports, to heel.
“We are going to enforce Florida law,” DeSantis said Friday. “I mean, we have Florida law. We have laws that protect the people and the privacy of our citizens, and we are going to enforce it.”
The law says that any business that requires a vaccine passport will be fined up to $5000 per customer it forces to show proof of vaccination. It does not ban other COVID-19 precautions, like taking a customer’s temperature before providing service.
But DeSantis is pitted against the cruise ship industry, largely based out of Florida, which has just been cleared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to slowly restart operations. Cruise lines are now permitted to take test cruises with volunteer passengers, after more than a year of lockdowns decimated the industry.
Norwegian Cruise Lines has considered pulling its fleet from Florida over the vaccine passport law.
“We hope that this doesn’t become a legal football or a political football, but at the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and God forbid we can’t operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from,” CEO Frank Del Rio said in mid-May. “And we can operate from the Caribbean for ships that otherwise would have gone to Florida.”
While DeSantis feuds with the industry regarding vaccine passports, his state is also working in tandem with the industry against CDC restrictions.
The state is in the middle of a court battle with the federal government, arguing that the CDC does not have the authority to tell cruise lines whether they may operate, or what capacity they may operate.
“Most industries are now back to business, and it is long past time for the rest to follow suit,” that lawsuit said. “The cruise industry in Florida cannot do so. It has been locked down for over a year. And this lockdown was not enacted pursuant to the state’s police power, by the United States Congress, or even by the politically accountable president. Rather, it was imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pursuant to a limited delegation from Congress to inspect and disinfect property and animals.”
For now, cruise lines still must adhere to the CDC’s restrictions, and still cannot implement vaccine passports.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “Florida Cruise Ship” by Ajay Suresh CC2.0.