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Florida and Cruise Lines Square Off Over COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

Florida and cruise companies could be locked in a battle over vaccine requirements as the state puts a ban on vaccine passports while cruise lines continue to mandate the jabs for passengers and crew.

On April 2, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning vaccine passports and local businesses from requiring this proof of vaccination. This ban applies to cruise lines as well, DeSantis’ press secretary Cody McCloud told Insider in an email.

“The Governor’s Executive Order provides that businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business,” McCloud told Insider in an email. “Therefore, the Executive Order prohibits cruise lines from requiring vaccine passports for their Florida operations.”

However, many cruise lines have already announced some form of a vaccine requirement, whether it be for crew, guests, or both. This includes Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which recently unveiled a sweeping vaccine requirementfor its Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas brand. Other cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, have held off on guest or crew requirements, instead opting to announce select “fully vaccinated” sailings.

However, major cruise lines — with the exception of those with a sweeping vaccine mandate — have withheld announcing a vaccine policy for future sailing series departing from US ports. So far, all of Royal Caribbean’s cruises operating under a vaccine order will be sailing out of international ports located in countries like Israel, Bermuda, and Cyprus.

DeSantis’ decision to prohibit cruise lines from requiring vaccines could prove to be yet another major issue for cruise companies, many of which have historically sailed out of Florida ports. But some experts have questioned DeSantis’ ability to impose such a ban upon cruise lines, according to a report from the Sun Sentinel.

This includes Jim Walker — an attorney based in South Florida with a specialization in maritime law — who told the Sun Sentinel that DeSantis may not have the jurisdiction needed to either prohibit cruise lines from enforcing a vaccine mandate or bring cruises back.

Regardless, it could be a while before we see any stand-off between the state and cruise lines interested in sailing out of Florida with a vaccine requirement.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to give cruise lines the green light to resume sailing and has shied away from enforcing an industry-wide vaccine mandate. As a result, no major cruise lines will be sailing from US ports in the near future, even if the ship is traveling with a vaccine mandate.

Sourced from: Brittany Chang | Business Insider

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