Norwegian Cruise Line is challenging a new Florida law that prevents cruise companies from requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination against the novel coronavirus.
The company filed a lawsuit Tuesday in a Miami federal court that contends that the “vaccine passport” law jeopardizes the safe operation of cruise vessels by increasing the risk of contracting the virus and falling ill with COVID-19.
Florida’s surgeon general, Dr. Scott A. Rivkees, is listed as the defendant in the suit. He’s the head of the state’s department of health.
Norwegian intends to restart cruises from Florida ports on Aug. 15 with vaccinations required for all passengers. The company wants a judge to lift the ban by Aug. 6.
The law imposes a fine of $5,000 each time a cruise line mandates that a passenger provide vaccination proof.
Like other cruise line companies, Norwegian has been hit very hard by the pandemic, since most ships haven’t been able to sail. In its suit, the company said its halt in operations has already cost it more than $6 billion.
The company also claims that without cruises, Florida has lost tens of millions of tax dollars and has been forced to expend around $20 million in state unemployment benefits.
“Any harm to the cruise industry constitutes harm to Florida and its citizenry. And the same relationship holds between NCLH and Florida,” the lawsuit says.
In the lawsuit, Norwegian is asking for a “preliminary and permanent injunctive relief” preventing the state from enforcing the “vaccine passport” law against the company. It’s also asking for the law to be declared unlawful, as well as any relief the court may deem appropriate.
The company is requesting a jury trial for the case.