TAMPA (WFLA) – Norwegian set sail Sunday on its first cruise from Miami since the pandemic began with a ship of fully vaccinated guests and crew.
This was made possible by a federal judge’s temporary ruling siding with the cruise line in its battle with Florida over requiring proof that passengers are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Judge Kathleen Williams ruled Florida’s law banning businesses from requiring customers to be vaccinated is unconstitutional on grounds of free speech.
“The First Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits the enactment of laws ‘abridging the freedom of speech’… Pursuant to this clause, a state ‘has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content,’” the ruling stated.
However, Gov. DeSantis, who has outlawed “vaccine passports” in Florida, said the state would appeal the ruling leading to strong words from Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio.
“It’s beyond bizarre. It’s shameful,” Del Rio told Yahoo! Finance. “I mean, come on, give it up. This is a pandemic we are talking about, people are dying every day, Florida now is the epicenter of the epicenter. What does it take for common sense to rule?”
Del Rio told Yahoo Finance he is hoping other companies follow suit, and says it’s a failure of leadership in the country to not have a similar vaccine mandate nationwide.
“Can you imagine if 700,000 people died of anything other than covid, the outrage that there would be, what government would do to stop that? And this government, whether we’re talking about local, state or federal — and I’m not talking Republicans, I’m not talking Democrats, I’m talking government,” Del Rio said.
According to Yahoo! the cruise line has also implemented 74 protocols to keep guests and crew safe. But Del Rio laments the lack of government leadership at both the federal and state levels.
“Here’s a state that relies on tourism; it’s the number one industry. And the number one priority of any hospitality business is to keep their customers safe,” he said.