Judge Deals Blow To Florida Law Banning Vaccine Passports

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A judge ruled Sunday that Norwegian Cruise Line can lawfully ask customers to provide proof of vaccination before boarding one of its ships, dealing a blow to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ law banning “vaccine passports” in the state.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in the Southern District of Florida issued the ruling, writing that DeSantis’ law was unconstitutional under the First Amendment and jeopardized public health. She added that Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees also did not have the power to enforce it.

The ruling allows Norwegian Cruise Line to require proof of vaccination on Aug. 15, when it is set to resume Florida-based passenger cruises.

DeSantis, a Republican, first signed the law banning businesses from implementing “vaccine passports” in April after issuing an executive order doing the same. (RELATED: DeSantis, Biden Clash Over Mask Mandates)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in June. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in June. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“This order will now allow the Company to operate in the safest way possible with 100% vaccination of all guests and crew when sailing from Florida ports,” the company said in a statement following the ruling. “Nothing takes priority over the health and safety of the Company’s guests, crew and the communities visited and its commitment to them is paramount.”

“The health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our number one priority, today, tomorrow and forever,” added Frank Del Rio, Norwegian’s president and C.E.O. “It’s not a slogan or a tagline, we fiercely mean it and our commitment to these principles is demonstrated by the lengths our Company has gone through to provide the safest possible cruise experience from Florida.”

Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for DeSantis, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that they would appeal the ruling.

“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,” she said.

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