Court says Florida can’t block cruise line from requiring vaccines

Photograph of a cruise ship.

Enlarge (credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

On Sunday, District Court Judge Kathleen Williams issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the state of Florida from enforcing a law that would have blocked cruise lines from requiring their passengers provide COVID-19 vaccine records.

While this is a temporary injunction that only applies to a single company, the ruling indicates that the law violates two separate constitutional protections, and provides a roadmap for any other company that is interested in contesting it. In addition, the same legal logic may apply to many similar statutes and executive orders adopted elsewhere in the US.

Norwegian vs. the sunshine state

If a Sunday ruling seems unusual, it's because of the case's tight timeline. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which runs a number of cruise ships out of Florida, is planning on starting a cruise next weekend. The company has promised its customers that everyone—all fellow passengers and the crew—will have been vaccinated, and the company will confirm their status. While in keeping with CDC guidance and requirements at a number of locations the cruise will visit, that approach runs afoul of Florida law, specifically a statute called Section 381.00316.

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