Judge Says Norwegian and Other Cruise Lines Can Require Vaccine Passports in Florida
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Judge Says Norwegian and Other Cruise Lines Can Require Vaccine Passports in Florida

Judge Says Norwegian and Other Cruise Lines Can Require Vaccine Passports in Florida

Chase Hattaway and Michael Tessitore reviewed the recent ruling from the Southern District of Florida involving vaccine passport legality on the high seas during this CLE course from Thompson Reuters West LegalEdCenter/Celesq.

In Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings v. Rivkees, U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen M. Williams entered an order granting the motion for preliminary injunction sought by several cruise lines to enjoin Florida from enforcing Section 381.00316-Florida’s vaccine passport ban statute-pending resolution of the lawsuit. The court based its ruling on the cruise lines’ argument that the statute impermissibly restricted the cruise lines’ First Amendment rights and also that the statute ran afoul of the dormant commerce clause, as well as the unique issues presented in cruising during a global pandemic.

During the presentation, Hattaway and Tessitore considered the applicability of the legal arguments used by the cruise lines in other contexts and offered guidance on what businesses operating in Florida should know about vaccine passports going forward.

Key takeaways from the course:

1) The Court ruled that the vaccine passport ban violated the First Amendment to the Constitution and the Dormant Commerce Clause.

2) The Order only prevents the State of Florida from enforcing the statute against the cruise lines. It does not, however, restrict the state from enforcing the statute against other businesses. Those businesses would have to file a separate challenge.

3) The statute does not restrict an employer’s ability to require its employees to receive the vaccine, nor does it prevent businesses from requiring patrons to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test or provide verbal confirmation of vaccination to gain entry or receive services.